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.