Without commas in her gaze,
the little girl dribbles colons with each breath
and swears an exclamation mark
is a lollipop:
“Is growing up for real or make-believe?”
Dot dot dot, I gasped.
A question mark is a fisherman’s hook.
I’d taken the bait of uncertainty,
when she offered me as consolation,
wrapped in quotation marks, a single Smartie.
Originally published in the April 2019 issue of Words Without Borders. "Pontuação" © Helder Faife. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Sandra Tamele and Eric M. B. Becker. All rights reserved.
for Aya at fifteen Damp-haired from the bath, you drape yourself upside down across the sofa, reading, one hand idly sunk into a bowl of crackers, goldfish with smiles stamped on. I think they are growing gills, swimming up the sweet air to reach you. Small girl, my slim miracle, they multiply. In the black hours when I lie sleepless, near drowning, dread-heavy, your face is the bright lure I look for, love's hook piercing me, hauling me cleanly up.
From Tell Me by Kim Addonizio. Copyright © 2000 by Kim Addonizio. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd. All rights reserved.
How to love like water loves
when it’s impossible to even taste
all the ghostly sediments
each time you take a sip
Impossible to savor
the salt in your blood
the light and island shorelines
in each living cell
When even the plainest mouthful
tastes more of you than you of it
Sweetest of absences
that frees in wave after wave
debris of thought like the dead,
the drowned, the vanished, and yet
sails your lips
on a voyage toward another’s, plying
all luck and regret
Worship, splash, guzzle, or forget
It clears any difference
Stone washer and mountain dissolver
outlive us, even the memory of
all any eyes touched
Wasp and cactus in a desert
Comet through outer space
Sleep among all the cloud-shepherds’ children
A love so perpetually current
it doesn’t care that you love
without even knowing you love
what you couldn’t survive
three days without
How to love like that: wild
dream-sparkler and meticulous architect
of every snowflake
Wise, ebullient, and generous
as the rain
Deepest of miracles
for a time
borrowing and replenishing
overflowing with fate
From Mitochondrial Night (Coffee House Press, 2019). Copyright © 2019 Ed Bok Lee. Used with permission of the author and Coffee House Press. This poem originally appeared in Hayden's Ferry Review, Fall-Winter 2017.
We came to the island. We stayed in the house.
Rain and sun. Bougainvillea. Pink cedar.
How many shadows slipped along walls
or whetted the leaves of century plants?
We saw clouds from the windows. Far boats.
You left the bed and came back shaking.
Your mother, her white hair, or something
whose shape would never, at last, find you.
Night palms clattering like hungry bowls.
Crazy whistling of the island peepers.
We walked to the water. Walked back.
We walked to the water . . . walked back.
Copyright © 2017 David Baker. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Winter 2017.
when the training dedicated
to what lines my eyes cast
braids me to that skein
then I know I’m a thing
that can take itself away
maybe etched with the man
on a horse leaping
into the lithographed
German windmill’s open bay
refined, involutely resolved
to curving inward
while touching the outside,
screaming isn’t looking
like when my mother died
of being a woman,
poor and eventually
American, the nerve I had
to fold time
in my mouth as if to call
back an escape line
from a life
and who would think
to hide in a windmill
and the horse
I really was
looking at that print
thinking without rancor
of what fraction of hateable men
who work so hard
at fleeing into private chambers
only to find
some uninvited thought of me
eyes closed, whispering
exactly there, spectral
and unwanted as I am,
It’s just easier for me
if you’re not around
Copyright © 2019 by Farid Matuk. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 19, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.