She was loose-limbed
like stuff in the back of a truck
going over a bump. When she sat reading
she was green and quiet,
distinct at first, then blurred
like a paper napkin’s grease. What time is it?
seemed to be a question
novels asked. The evening
fell like a bird, fell so fast
we could just remember, how it felt
fucking and getting fucked, how we lingered
smoking in the dark outside
but never heard the tall
tree in the ear! Heard only
our own breath, a scuffling
like the sound ballet shoes make
during the ballet. The notes
stuck in our throat? The body
stormed to stay alive? We know
she studied her options,
like us. Like us, she stood
days at the window, the wail of sirens
banging off the city walls—
Then walked out into sun? So bright
it was like walking
into someone else’s applause?
A force as fierce as roses
climbing over a gate.
after (far after) Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea
---Kate Northrop. Posted with permission. The poem first appeared in Locomotive.