Category: Poems from The Welter of Me and You

Peter Schireson

A Chinese Fan and the Wind

A Chinese Fan and the Wind

We commandeered a boat, 

then we jumped into the sea and swam 

with no end to the water, sank

the boat and flew with no end 

to the air.

We were swimming, water, flying,

and air. But we weren’t fishes or birds.

We found a place without

a sea, or air, or boats. Or anything

else. A place that just had us.

And wood. We built a fire 

with the wood and filmed it while

it turned to ash and watched to see

if you or I could tell exactly 

when it turned.

Previously, I was wood.

This time you were wood

and I was ash.

We climbed a mountain

where it was always windy, 

made a Chinese fan and fanned 

ourselves in the wind so the wind 

could see we were swimming, water, flying, 

and air, you the wood and the bird, 

and me the fish and the ash.

I was the Chinese fan

and you were the wind.



When I met you, I was a house-sitter 

in my own body, eating pastries and 

dozing off drunk in the shower.

When we talked, words leaped out of my mouth 

like animals released into the wild. You unwrapped 

your life like a talisman, spoke 

about years and ways you’d ached 

in a postcard-ready small town. Time wobbled 

on rubbery legs and I was lost in the roominess 

of your voice. Later, we put in earplugs 

and lay on the bed side by side, barely touching. 

We construed each others’ muffled sounds-as sparks

from a saw, as rhizomes drowned in muddy water-

and dreamed them into notes overnight,

shaping them to a melody we hummed 

to ourselves in the morning. 

Flight Plan

Flight Plan

Let’s speak to each other

in the language of paper airplanes,

bend our edges in to meet

and fold the quiet into shapes,

mold our wings according

to the soft geometry of handmade things.

Let’s use our time aloft to catch our breath

and clear the air before we yaw,

pamper back the creases in our rumpled craft

and fly some more.