“Alchemy” by Jane Yeh



If it could be done, I’d do it
In an instant. I’ve got the charts,
The mortar and pestle, the fullest
Array of flasks that side of Rome.
My walls are papered with symbols,
and the biggest
Is gold. There’s a cabinet full
Of rejects: salt and cow hair,
Rye harvested under a full moon and
Magnesium and saints’ spit. I could
show you
Calculation, the reams of vellum in
my closet, enough
Ink for ten octopi. Instead I promise
you piles of gold,
Shining heaps higher than
Your bed, weighing more
Than the both of us.

At night I sit alone, poring
Over books in older tongues; none
Of the words are in my dictionary.
Signs stare down at me – calcium,
Silver, lead – mean as Chinese, like a
When I fall asleep I dream the
And planets sweep me up, wrap me

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