Chinese Silence No. 58

Timothy Yu


             after David Romtvedt, “Buddha with a Cell Phone”

The sky cracks open and fire and brimstone fall.  I go outside
to stand in the storm, the longed-for judgment of all those
who’ve annoyed me for so long.  I shriek and caper
and look for the dog, but he’s been raptured already.
When I come back in, I shake the embers off,
a few ashes smoldering on the rug.  Then I notice the Buddha
sitting in my recliner.  He’s wearing a hazmat suit
over his yellow robe.  I sit on him, but he doesn’t squeak.
He’s got an inscrutable smile on his face, his eyebrows
carved like switchblades over his gleaming eyes.
My wife walks by and with a Buddha-like wink says,
“You’re hot.”  With his right hand the Buddha grabs my hair
and with his left forces a cell phone against my ear.
His lips are closed, so I know it’s not him talking.
Oh, one more thing—it’s my voice on the line,
a little kaleidoscope of all the things I’ve ever said.
I thought I would hear my true words glitter
through the bone-dry static but instead what I hear
is self-regard echoing through an empty mall.
I whirl around and am presented with the image
of a thousand mes in rubber Buddha suits, each one
silent, falling, about to hit the ground.