For Adam


by E.J. Koh

The sound of a poem—it starts with the footsteps
of an ant over the log we sit on. We hold up steaming mugs
and we commit our anxieties to the air, for these anxieties
to become air, warmer and fresher as they rise away.

The prologue prolongs the holy word—light.
There is light eschewed from our bodies—in all places,
a source of its own, highlighting our features with pale
observable lightness as it does to breasts and breath.

The middle begins with rocks falling off a cliff-face
into the water. This is the argument against time that passes
through our bodies, sinks to the bottom of what used to be,
raging at the seconds, sweeter and more stale as they leave us.

Crisis is shaped like an owl pellet we open together,
the tiny bones, beaks, and fur. There is a little tooth, a puff
of feather. The further we peel back the translucent layers,
the more heaven is dimmed by our bright and curious joy.

The solar system is a clock. It turns as we pull
the tulle, leave the linen, divide the diamond, christen
the chrysanthemum, circle the Sound—as we, ourselves,
pull back into solace. We are witnesses of each other.

Afterword, we are unconcealed. Soon there is no
difference between words, and then things. We are beginning.
We are elliptical. You ask me across the aisle of the market,
eating your croquette, “How can you make a poem happy?”

About the Author:

E.J. Koh is the recipient of the 2016 Pleiades Press Editors Prize for her forthcoming poetry book A Lesser Love. Her poems, translations​, and stories have appeared in Boston Review, Columbia Review, World Literature Today, TriQuarterly, Southeast Review, SWARM, and Privacy Policy: The Anthology of Surveillance Poetics (Black Ocean Press, 2014). She accepted fellowships at Kundiman, The MacDowell Colony, Napa Valley’s Writers’ Conference, Vermont Studio Center, and the Jack Straw Writers Program. She earned her MFA at Columbia University in New York for Creative Writing and Literary Translation in Korean and Japanese. She tweets @thisisEJKoh.