A Tab of Iron on the Tongue

Poetry / Sandra Lim

:: A Tab of Iron on the Tongue ::

Each time you see a full moon rising,
you imagine it will express 
what your life cannot otherwise express, 
that it’s a figure of speech.

This really means watching yourself
turn something unknown into 
something manageable.

As human tendencies go, this one is not
so terrible, and possibly winsome, besides. 
Say November, and you name 
the death working itself out in you,
season after season.

Call the bed you lie down into each night
a raft or an island, depending on
whether it’s love or work you’re running from.

Every moon has so much to say
about the unsolvable losses. 
When it disappears behind a cloud, 
filled with its own shining intentions,
it’s an important translation.

When Schoenberg pointed out 
the eraser on his pencil, he said, “This end
is more important than the other.”


From the writer

:: Account ::

I like a poem to be a formal enterprise that can open into a new way of thinking or feeling; I love how it might capture a life unevenly developing or picture the figure of thinking. As for the effect I dream of, I often think of this image by Isak Dinesen: “I had seen the royal lion, before sunrise, below a waning moon, crossing the grey plain on his way home from the kill, drawing a dark wake in the silvery grass, his face still red up to the ears.”


Sandra Lim is the author of The Wilderness (forthcoming, W.W. Norton, 2014), selected by Louise Glück for the 2013 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Loveliest Grotesque (Kore Press, 2006). She is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.