h o m e........
p a s t   i s s u e s....
s u b m i s s i o n s....
l i n k s

 

 

.........
MATTHEW THORBURN 


.............
LIKE A LIGHT LEFT ON FOR YOU
 

Gong Haiyan created the dating website Jiayuan in 2003 following her own unsuccessful attempts to meet someone. By 2011 the site had 56 million users.

 

If anyone ever loved me, I have yet to hear
about it, says the farm girl turned factory
girl turned online dating guru. Not that
that stopped her. Her parents wanted
to make matches, not take chances.
But then? Almost twenty-seven! Almost
shengnu—a leftover woman. They were left
to fret and stew: what would she do?
Love, staple us together. Love, gum up

the works. The dowry in Mao’s day?
Paid in grain. Then: Happy New Year!
It’s 1980 and everyone wants three rounds
and a sound: a bicycle and wrist watch,
sewing machine, radio. Or thirty legs:
a bed, table, set of chairs. Love
like no money down. Love like the rent
doesn’t come due. And you?
I’ll make my own luck, she said.
Yours too. Because you want… You want?

You want. So the story starts again,
the way stories do: a need needed
meeting. She’d help women meet men.
Make wooden matches whoosh
into flame. Because here’s fearful math:
a hundred and eighteen guys fight
over each hundred gals. Women,
you’re wanted now: not as daughters

but daughters-in-law. Honey, is this
the guy for you? Look at his watch and belt,
his cell phone and shoes. Love like a light
left on for you. It’s not all about money
but some of it is. Love, unbutton our hearts.
Let the wings of his wallet flap open.
And so busy—here in the city to make
money, more money, how else will fifty-six
million singletons ever meet

except online? Guys, do you have a sunflower
seed face? Reliable triangle face? Boxes
checked, fields filled in, the search engine
hums. Smile, please. Upload your photo.
Type your likes, dislikes, how kind
a husband you’ll be. Two electrons buzz
across the pearly Shanghai sky. How else
can they collide? Or even see each other
zip by? Like in the movies. Like

wham! Two taxis bash together
on Nanjing Road. Love like hot peppers
sputtering in the wok, like four hands
in sudsy dishwater. May their daughter
someday ask the hotel clerk Gao Zhang
why he married chef Fancy Huang.
Baba? Mama? Love like a table set for two,
for three. He remembers checking
his email at the front desk fifteen times
a day. Baba married me because
he’s lucky, Fancy will say. Because I said yes.






...........
DEEP BENEATH THE SNOW


   

About uncertain things they seem
most certain, the old priests,
like death and where the soul goes
and whether you and I should worry.
It’s Monday’s small transactions
that leave them at a loss: how
you balance your checkbook, what
a lady keeps handy in her purse,
the price of milk and bread and gas.
All will be answered, all provided.
The priests say it’s in God’s hands,
but that’s what old priests always say.
Here they come now in their gold
and red chasubles, still dreaming
of the boy saint perforated by arrows,
the saint torn apart by dogs.
Carefully they step across the grass
between the rectory and church,
the grass you must imagine as brittle
and brown because it lies cold
beneath the snow and no birds sing.

 

 

 

BIO: Matthew Thorburn is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently This Time Tomorrow (Waywiser, 2013) and the chapbook A Green River in Spring (Autumn House, 2015). He lives with his wife and son in New York City, where he works as the communications manager for an international law firm.   






 

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