Facing east towards water, a dozen porch benches
overlook an isle of skyscrapers; but nearer, a strip
of gray beach sand, a pier house selling hairy muscles
each second, then one long hour of bike rentals riding
a mile of fresh gravel laid to rest beside the docks.
On the street, a song plays about mermaids kissing
whales whose underwater tears transform into pearls
after twenty-seven years—plus, today, I am one whole
pearl and the first dusty form of a second sinking into
the ocean they call home. Car roofs roped with cases:
bookcase, pillowcase, suitcase. This town writes all
lowercase across its paper signs and copper plates,
whipping at the suggestion of wind. This place fits zero
room for excitement. It calls forth nothing but restful
silence and ease. The doorways are hubs decorated
with string lights. Through one door, a man approaches
as casual as a bird sailing into its fullest wingspan
towards me, as if he’d been there since the beginning.
EJ Koh is the recipient of the 2016 Pleiades Press Editors Prize and her collection of poems A Lesser Love is forthcoming in 2017. She has accepted fellowships at The MacDowell Colony, Kundiman, Vermont Studio Center, Napa Valley’s Writers Conference, Jack Straw Writers Program, and she earned her MFA at Columbia University in New York for Creative Writing and Literary Translation in Korean and Japanese.
*Image courtesy of Library of Congress.