Wonder Wheel

for Hye Yun Park

angels undress, & solstice has got us mini, stilled . . .
hot hounds thrash east into ocean’s maribou,
foam that is knowledge, our own gravy bods
veloutine as time is giving. it’s pajeon weather, krill 
pink past prime, past memory & vistas futureful.
i saw the backside of my own eyes, great no-god 
carousel rouged as nutmeg with blood. the nerve! 
i mean it was the nerve. my optics creamy yet thinning, 
hair moss in abundance, precise as the meridian.
not even a bird could escape becoming more like a bird. 
what is friendship? the same question i asked you returns,
sparkling like a hot fix comet between our minds.
a friend is someone who sits with you, amphibian.
between water & land, a friend sits with you.

& then a curtain opens. a woman reclining shines huge
in absolute tableau. linen, white. skyline, paper. gender,
dame cuchifrita, perfectly still, daring life to blink.
we can’t stop recording this immersive dream. abuse 
shook once our early worlds, & this is how we meet.
it is a miracle to be a tube with legs—it is miraculous (!)
to be a coil in a bag . . . a patty in a briefcase! a living necklace!
a two-legged descendant of clear-boned fish! an optimist!
us red-rich bums more royal than crabs predate bliss!
the washer ring oh-shape of time fits us, tilts us 
well over sky’s edge where, somehow, air sits gentlest. 
crude, blue mesmero, glistening as fresh silk,
—to wet this globe with salt & glee, to unlatch the attic,
to undo the sleeve. we finger most the principle fabric.


Copyright © 2022 by Wo Chan. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 5, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote this poem for my dear friend, Hye Yun Park, in the spirit of summer: of beaches and Coney Island Ferris wheels, of sunsets and seafood pancakes, and of friendships—the mystery and wonder of it that brings (and keeps) two people close. We had spent, unplanned, two consecutive evenings together, which became the container for this double sonnet. Friday’s dinner and a gazing into Dumbo’s gauzy sunset, then Saturday, a heaven of stage lights through red velvet curtains as we watched Dame Cuchifrita and Edie Nightcrawler’s ‘SATYRICONEY,’ a burlesque tribute to filmmaker Federico Fellini. I think if I could write an entire book like this, a book about my friends’ hearts and feelings and how I see them . . . I would be grateful for all the days.”
—Wo Chan