Portrait of A.

           If they don’t see happiness in the picture at least
           they’ll see the black. —Chris Marker

A magnolia tree in full bloom, X- 
            rayed by a streetlamp,
pressed against the windowpane
            like someone hopped onto the glass
of the office Xerox and hit copy

            A magnolia tree in full bloom, winter
in black and white:      cold, grainy air
and your fingers pointing,       Last April
            your husband buried
the two halves of a snake         you shot

your new film about a river
that flows backwards
                      Rivers, did you know,
            are measured by a sinuosity index
in opposite corners

            of the yard so one half wouldn’t find
Length as crow flies                divided by
length as fish swims      weight
            and counterweight. A magnolia,
framed, a shot looking for       its pair.

Copyright © 2015 by Tung-Hui Hu. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 15, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.