Wild Oat (avena barbata)

Sliding my fingers along the stalk, 
                                                       Digging into the water, pushing 
each teardrop, feather light pod 
                                                       forward, a boat full with divers 
pinpricks my hand. Stripping oat stems bare, 
                                                       excited for the dive, loosening rope 
sleek, singing. Low gold rushed hills 
                                                       tied loosely on soft feathers, 
in the beautiful country, above us the twinkling 
                                                       beads of water reflect the light. 
of refinery pipes, illuminating the dusk. 
                                                       How sun-parched the oatgrass hills! 
How hoarse my voice is from play 
                                                       Now tighten the ropes, throw 
-ing American games, hide and seek, 
                                                       the cormorants, overboard, into the glacial water. 
fields surrounded by the deep blue, 
                                                       Necks long, diving deep into Lake Erhai. 
us children pretending to be birds 
                                                       Fisherman pretending to fish with birds 
who retrieve the same hill shapes in dreams. 
                                                       for tourist’s snapshots, this place in postcards 
A landscape so familiar, and 
                                                       now a backpacker’s paradise, polluted shrine. 
Ma, she was too young to remember. 
                                                       The fisherman and birds, catch and release, 
How could she have known that this, what I know as home, 
                                                       no sustenance, only an image. 
is a mirror of the one she fled. 


To moth is to seek flickering movement; any wing-beaten pattern in my peripheral vision
catches attention immediately. I am eternally divided, fluttering between the little screen’s glow
and my daughter singing multiplication tables from a crowded sofa. Numbers grow larger with
each recitation as our world folds exponentially smaller. My mother texts me photos of her
kitchen scrap garden. Images of rebirthed green onions from last week’s dinner, carrot tops from
rough cuttings.

I reply: are you really going to eat that?

To mother is to make material. My fingers spin strands of what we remember, I use what I can
find to stitch a temporary world for my daughter, lit by electrons. I feed her from under loose
iridescent scales that smother into dust under pressure, what my mother, her mother, her
mother, her mother….it is the best that we can do.

Two moths circle each other. Resting just apart, wings heaving.

Jenne Hsien Patrick
Personal Website | Noyo Review Pieces

Jenne Hsien Patrick is a writer and an artist currently based in Seattle. She incorporates poetry into textiles, papercutting and stop action animation and creates spaces for healing and storytelling in her community. Jenne’s work has appeared or is forthcoming from wildness, Honey Literary, Capsule Stories and elsewhere.