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Categories: Light and Chalk

Sophia Terazawa

In this glossary of something else, 

     I put my energy into the unconditional

repertoire of fondness 

     as we wept at the close of Ghibli’s Kaguya- 

hime in the theater where we also debated
    if language could truly 

appear in exile, 

     and my friend took 

that second job after graduating. 

     Every morning 

I saw her hands folded 

     under the sheet, and the pain 

near her belly, what was once 

     an archaeologist labeled, prehistoric,

or what leapt off the pier 

     with a skeleton 

in my country, 

     or, into that scene of it, 

a seer with her bones jangling about. 

     Such vibrations didn’t matter, 

but a wandering 

     through the subterranean streams,

of anklets 

     at the border nearing 

my mother’s nation and this one. 

     I recognized love 

for what you were 

     in this icy desert like the deft 

hands which spelled out, “và,” 

     in Vietnamese, or the word “and”

that accidental exit  

     moving away in this accidental sound, 

as you said, 

     that boat was no longer her story;

or to wait, 

     an hourglass of torture.


How did và 

     extend beyond our waiting? 

Who was there, afloat upon 

     this ambulating 

line or tarragon of pulp 

     to spell out these whole 

butcheries of speech; 

     how could I carve 

these moments in your likeness,

     asked an oracle of bone, 

but then the people looked up 

     from their parted seas, and out of that,

a fishing boat, 

     what loosened us beyond the ridge? 

It doesn’t matter, you said, 

     the archaeologist falling asleep.

I stared into Mars 

     beyond somewhere outside,

the head-on red 

     collision, what couldn’t wake 

us either.

Sophia Terazawa is the author of Winter Phoenix (Deep Vellum) and two chapbooks, I AM NOT A WAR (Essay Press) and Correspondent Medley (Factory Hollow Press), winner of the 2018 Tomaž Šalamun Prize.

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