They Will Sew the Blue Sail

Rice | Dan Beachy-Quick

Quick rice was white rice

A picture of an old man on the box rewarding impatience

Virtue almost a kind of fortified nutrient

It only takes five minutes to prepare

On the tv screen I can picture rice paddies

Reflecting the sky back to itself as women bend over

And put their hands through the sky

Hats hide their heads in modesty or in shame

Why do I hear helicopters when I close my eyes

And the long stalks bending around in circles

As if in sympathy with the blades or the stars

Or watching an invisible animal bedding down for night

I turned off the tv and had children of my own

I had to learn to cook so I could feed them

Then I learned some grains cooked slow

Jasmine for example or Arborio thick and squat

Ladle after ladle of steaming broth dropped into the pot

And stirring it in circles that keep spinning

Spinning until the liquid’s gone

Add more and then I repeat I repeat

The same motions differently

Salt the water and bring to boil

Drop in the wild or the brown or drop in

The forbidden and turn the heat down

It takes an hour

I can play games or I can do chores

Wipe prints off windows

Turn solicitors from the door

The radio plays songs between news of the war

Just parts of songs nothing whole

Fading out before the words come on

When the drone decides the data looks right

Is firm to the tooth is tender but has bite

It sends the bomb home

Silent as delight a button turns off the noise

The children eat so they’ll grow


Dark purple at the bottom of the empty

White bowl we ate all we could eat

Of forbidden rice with avocado and meat

Like ink at the bottom of the bowl

I could write their names on a grain

It might bring them luck

Glued onto a string tied around their wrists

It might bring my children luck

To write on rice with ink made from rice

To dip the single-hair brush into the bowl

And paint their names patiently

As ink dries so they walk through time

Carrying no burden greater than a grain of rice

No wise man in a cloud looks down

The water’s been boiling so long no steam

Curls up into a cloud

No cloud gathers while at the table I work

No voice speaks from white

Cloud of sleep-tossed hair

The child wears her open mouth and stares

Out the window at her hands at the tree

That says maybe when the wind blows through

Its cloud of leaves maybe this work will

Wander back to earth somehow somehow in the dirt

Make a bed where a cloud can fill a head and hide

What’s been done from what’s been said


The longest grain can only hold a single word

Just a name just a hint like joy

Like pain hints at some fact outside myself

Like rice in a plastic bag

Like a cloud squat and dumb in the light

On the table wanting while it waits

All the words like like

The book of genesis is waiting again to begin

To begin I need to break the moment apart

And on a grain write the word begin

Not long after the beginning an old man sits in flames

They curl up around him like petals

They seem so gentle when they seem like a flower

That is an image of fire on fire

Like words singing inside flames don’t burn

Like rice in the scathing heat softens damage into use

So that old man sitting in a flower on fire speaks

And a younger old man writes down all he says

I am jealous I am kind I kill I condemn

I save I choose all of you numerous as dust

As stars as grains of rice

Quiet in a box or in a plastic bag don’t wait begin

It makes the fine motor skills ache appropriately

It feels like starch in the mouth worship

No images love others print it down on these grains

Watch the pot until it boils be patient amen