Empty Ring, Nest Fire

My first burnt bark child—flung to the windless flames
Second sly child—dressed for weather, swan skinned

Serpents impress diamonds into my salt shoulders
This composed with the Devil’s black forked feet

He wants them back, sunk in hot white ink 
Tentacles; mother-hunger hundred-mouths; the drift and

Number one child, the jawbone I packed for you, axe-bright
Number two child, that hard set of hooves, elegant, horse-swift

Recall that one midsummer squall, us the color of water
The shock of hail: the sky astonished, dropping all its blind white 


Copyright © 2015 by Sun Yung Shin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 23, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The poem is my first attempt to write from my experience of my children growing up and becoming more independent. Like many children in fairy tales, they must go out into a difficult world; it’s hard to begin to let go and I can only hope that I have equipped them with (at least some of) the right things.”
Sun Yung Shin