Two Poems

Jessica Yuan

On the Set of Big Brother
In the Real World, each wall must compress
its own secret. Cameramen piercing
into some wet out-turned sac, dye-saturated chamber
held close to its neighbor
by post production. Replacing insulation, breathing heavy
when it starts to get Real.
Crowding to the one-way mirror or cooling vent,
behind the space
called thickness, larger than what it watches
discerningly. Where the magic happens.
A door, squeezing one room
out of another. Calling loudly upstairs when upstairs
grays into empty
thirty lateral steps from the entrance.
Why bother coming in from the sun?
Why count your stars in a four-sided room, swallowing
two sides before the main meal
is trucked into
the kitchen, which must have everything wrong,
which revolves
around its main appliance, the spiral stair.
Every door and its lever
shushing to whisper
as seven strangers collide
into the long stretch of hallway lined with pinhole
incandescents below
backup flood light surveillance, past
the lengthy processional
to a bathroom which one stranger used unknowingly
rather than for effect.
No weather proofing between heat wave and hillside.
Find out what happens
when face meets face. In the corner
on the back sheet, somewhere just like inside
the shutter contracts its iris
around a heated earlobe
bracing for the first screamings of the day.
Then you sit in your own plasterboard box,
lean into the glass.
After Miasma
When the body was porous,
stuffed pink with orders of dry
and damp, condensation
and sap
at the border: and to submerge
a limb would risk
of smoke to fever (wintered
into lung) ingested
or drenched: what swam
in the rot
beneath a white square of cloth
shed open
for desert and mountain (blasted
dry) and landing over the portico’s roof
where the dying lay
between four columns
for whatever was offered
by air
slinking through: pneumatic thread
mounding expanse into mouth,
wet glossy ghost
of wind and finger
wafting dust
from the surface. Then the surface
(pierced by
an eye-lens) spilled its viscous folds,
minutiae of contaminant, invisible
from the glare of a porcelain doll,
all shell and immunity (no organ
to unfurl)
from the porcelain wall, bleached dry
on all enclosings
when the windows shut
and ceiling sprouted
another breathing machine: metal, hollow,
filtered tube of an engine to lung and crouch
and listen from the network of latticed vents
squared in
with fluorescents and sharp metal points
which go under
the surface of things.
JESSICA YUAN is a Kundiman fellow, and her poems have been published in jubilat, Boulevard, Ninth Letter, The Journal, American Chordata, and Zone 3, among others. She currently lives in Boston, where she is earning her Master’s in Architecture at Harvard.