A Poem by Rachael Li Ming Chong

The Grasshopper as Thermometer

My foot thump on the lawn is a stone

plunged to conjure a ripple of skipping circles.

You are the tips of grass, the nodules of stick,

the raised splinters of timber decking.

Hind legs poised to grind another angle –

are you sunbathing, or contemplating

your blade units of displacement,

the slow motion stills from the blur of below?

The number of chirps in eight seconds

plus five and you tell me that the pumpkins bronzed

handsomely as the clouds fattened

that the cherry blossoms awakened

in a lingerie of frost. The serrations of comb

against scraper, the songless listening

through their bellies the strings

of a mercury sunrise. You dial through

the stridulation static and search

for the frequency of still air

before you took that first leap.

Rachael Li Ming Chong is a poet and teacher of Chinese-Malaysian heritage, born and based in London. She is a winner of The Poetry Archive’s WordView 2021 Competition. Her debut poetry pamphlet The Red Strings Between is forthcoming with Verve Poetry Press in early 2024.