Love Elegy in the Chinese Garden, with Koi

Near the entrance, a patch of tall grass.
Near the tall grass, long-stemmed plants;

each bending an ear-shaped cone
to the pond’s surface. If you looked closely,

you could make out silvery koi
swishing toward the clouded pond’s edge

where a boy tugs at his mother’s shirt for a quarter.
To buy fish feed. And watching that boy,

as he knelt down to let the koi kiss his palms,
I missed what it was to be so dumb

as those koi. I like to think they’re pure,
that that’s why even after the boy’s palms were empty,

after he had nothing else to give, they still kissed
his hands. Because who hasn’t done that—

loved so intently even after everything
has gone? Loved something that has washed

its hands of you? I like to think I’m different now,
that I’m enlightened somehow,

but who am I kidding? I know I’m like those koi,
still, with their popping mouths, that would kiss

those hands again if given the chance. So dumb.

More by Nathan McClain

The Sentence

begins with its subject,
          which is the sentence.

Track the sentence
          to find out what happens

or how it will act. It is
          the subject, after all. To track,

meaning keep an eye on,
          which is synecdoche,

part representing the whole
          of a thing. One

may track a package if he pleases.
          One may track a person,

though you’d probably want
          the whole of him, not only

an eye, or perhaps
          only an eye. Look how

the sentence is so capable
          of embracing contraction.

A him may function
          as a subject, but that depends

upon the sentence, i.e., A man
          is subject to his sentence.

You understand.
          Such syntax renders it like

a package showing evidence
          of having been tampered with—