Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

Jessica Yuan

Strange Things from the West

on the arrival of European books in the late Joseon dynasty

Telescopes, self-sounding clocks,
maps and instruments appear

unobtrusively in a time
of simple exchanges. Pretty clouds

came with strange things from the west,
soft papers, careful papers, depicting

large dogs with much hair, large dogs
who sat believably beside those native scholars

rubbing their eyes, dashing away
reflective puddles and working late

behind small open windows
with their half asleep fingertip folds

tracing from eyebrow to eyebrow
the almost completed knowledge

of human textured skin. In the morning
they bristle between nose and cheek,

each pore weighing a tiny blue
shadow. A fine pointed brush

meets each indentation while the scholars
weep, adding in whisker by whisker

the stone damp face of a three-
dimensional man, who sees no sunlight

when the sunlight is white hair, black hair,
and thousands are demanded, thousands

turning quickly from paper
to self to paper again.

Jessica Yuan is currently a graduate student studying architecture at Harvard. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Ninth Letter, Pedestal, The Margins, Ruminate, and others.