Each of them described the brother's death in different terms, though the fact of his absence interrupted them indiscriminately. Do they know how he found his life, if from inside it looked like a cage shaped exactly like his body, except two sizes too big, growing as he grew, condensing when he made himself small, and no matter what he did, he couldn't dissolve its borders, not even while he slept. I don't think it let him sleep. At night, fighting sleep, I stay up as if hoping I'll catch wind of something. Tonight, or years ago, a wolf chased a deer past the cabin's front door and out onto lake ice where fate met each discriminately. Borders dissolved, but which one, between predator and prey, or stage and props? Anywhere there is a hole there are traces of arrival and departure. The wind becomes a palimpsest of the creature no longer here, and a song, or is it a cry, emerging from nowhere, on its way to nowhere, passes through until the textures of the earth absorb it entirely. Sound: a body's way of making itself known. Silence: a way of knowing.

Copyright © 2021 by Diana Khoi Nguyen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 13, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

The cry of the cicada
Gives us no sign
That presently it will die.

 

 

                                              —Translation by William George Aston

This poem is in the public domain.

No shoes and a glossy
red helmet, I rode
on the back of my dad’s
Harley at seven years old.
Before the divorce.
Before the new apartment.
Before the new marriage.
Before the apple tree.
Before the ceramics in the garbage.
Before the dog’s chain.
Before the koi were all eaten
by the crane. Before the road
between us, there was the road
beneath us, and I was just
big enough not to let go:
Henno Road, creek just below,
rough wind, chicken legs,
and I never knew survival
was like that. If you live,
you look back and beg
for it again, the hazardous
bliss before you know
what you would miss.

Copyright © 2015 by Ada Limón. Used with permission of the author.

I read a Korean poem
with the line “Today you are the youngest
you will ever be.” Today I am the oldest
I have been. Today we drink
buckwheat tea. Today I have heat
in my apartment. Today I think
about the word chada in Korean.
It means cold. It means to be filled with.
It means to kick. To wear. Today we’re worn.
Today you wear the cold. Your chilled skin.
My heart kicks on my skin. Someone said
winter has broken his windows. The heat inside
and the cold outside sent lightning across glass.
Today my heart wears you like curtains. Today
it fills with you. The window in my room
is full of leaves ready to fall. Chada, you say. It’s tea.
We drink. It is cold outside.

From A Cruelty Special to Our Species (Ecco, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Emily Jungmin Yoon. Used with the permission of Ecco.

No easy thing to bear, the weight of sweetness.

Song, wisdom, sadness, joy: sweetness
equals three of any of these gravities.

See a peach bend
the branch and strain the stem until
it snaps.
Hold the peach, try the weight, sweetness
and death so round and snug
in your palm.
And, so, there is
the weight of memory:

Windblown, a rain-soaked
bough shakes, showering
the man and the boy.
They shiver in delight,
and the father lifts from his son’s cheek
one green leaf
fallen like a kiss.

The good boy hugs a bag of peaches
his father has entrusted
to him.
Now he follows
his father, who carries a bagful in each arm.
See the look on the boy’s face
as his father moves
faster and farther ahead, while his own steps
flag, and his arms grow weak, as he labors
under the weight
of peaches.

From Rose (BOA Editions, 1986). Copyright © 1986 by Li-Young Lee. Used with the permission of BOA Editions.