One of my projects this year is to unearth my old poems. It seems fitting to kick off such an archaeological project with this longish poem that came together in a vulnerable time. I had became a worrier. I was a new mother, I wasn’t writing much, I didn’t like what I was writing, and I watched too much TV crime drama. Meanwhile, the quiet disintegration of my marriage had begun. Reading this poem again feels like sifting through ruins of a burnt down house, trying to recognize what might have been yours.

Photo: Eugene Eric Kim

In the lateness of the world

the television said,

“The two detectives are worn angels,

caught in a permanent investigation

in which they are mirrors

of each other and of our selves.

One looks and looks with kestral eyes,

raking his gaze over the glowing evidence;

the other with ancient feet

and sticky wings

hovers over the crime scene,

waiting for the ineffable,

tears on his cheeks.”

 

*


in the lateness of the world,

mother’s friend’s sister-in-law

disappeared in February snow.

 

 

months

 

not knowing

 

 

 

 

Then, one June day,

 

Missing Pediatrician’s Remains Found Near Ski Resort

 

search dogs found her body,

pieces of it, in a wooded canyon.

 

pieces of her body

pieces of flesh, bone fragments

resembling earth, broken stones

 

*


a kestrel can see where its prey has been,

sentences gleaming in the furrows

a weightless radiant history

a map

a burning shadow the body drags

into the lateness of the world

 

*


in June

in Canada

he stepped off a building

 

 

such distances

 

 

I’m sick with distances

 

 

*


pieces of a body

crumbling back into earth

one cell at a time

one stitch at a time

she unraveled into soil

 

*


in the lateness of the world,

a stitched together feeling

is the feeling of living

 

go on, keep assembling arranging</indent

might get to a feeling resembling truth

 

keep trying to trick yourself into writing,

arrange a life that resembles writing,

until the arranging becomes your life

a life resembling real life

 

who said “what you didn’t paint makes the painting”?

 

 

*


some cloudless nights after nursing,

wakeful in moonlight, in the lateness of the world,

she pats my breasts,

her small hands,       fleshy petals,

velvet feelers,

her black eyes look up, reflecting

extraterrestrial light

a light before knowledge

pure intelligence

conceiving the algebras of attachment

and detachment

my lovebug, my alien,

my six-month creature

 

 

*


at a friend’s mother’s wake:

cinders of spirit money ascending to [

 

heaven

 

]

 

uneven dance on

invisible currents,

thermodynamic whimsy

(did anyone else see this?)

 

from the square mortuary windows

diagonals of light

cutting dust columns

 

almost soundless

 

then almost a song her moaning

 

 

*


a stitch at a time

she unraveled into soil

cell by cell

her terrible wounds came undone

 

*


In the lateness of the world,

a stitched together feeling

is the feeling of living,

the ache you feel is the ache of minutes

between you this month and you last year

and you right now and the ones you love.

Heavy clouds boil and break and shatter

high over the house and the row of houses

and the blocks of rows and rows of blocks.

Once again, you’re alone, making sentences.

It rains all day and it rains all night,

all the way down to the hazy beach

where saltwater rushes this western shore,

endlessly,

composing the distances.

 

*

 

1999-2003