The first night you spend alone,
for predictable reasons,
you think about the thousands of books
leading to one. Poems, stories, movies, songs,
and it’s too much.
It’s your family around dinner,
each insisting the same story their own way.
You fail into the couch.
Questions breathe in the details you gasp
after your friends go home.
Kiss the dirt dissolving into your palm
after wrecking your bike.
Breathe in the wonder of healing,
wondering if it will ever take.
Some wounds cannot be healed,
and some wounds, you feel, should not.
You dust off your palms,
but leave the dirt under your nails.
A sigh works its way about the room.
You wonder if you can do any of this.
You get up to wash the dishes.
It might as well start with the dishes.
Telephone of the Wind
For Dad and for Derick
There is a phone booth in Otsuchi, Japan
where people go to call the dead.
Lovers, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons,
brothers and sisters lining up,
the left-behind people,
whispering caged secrets
into breathless copper wire.
Maybe you have never been in a phone booth
before today, nor have you ever used
a functioning rotary phone. Your fingertip holds
an edge and feels sweet resistance –
it keeps you upright –
as it twirls and ratchets back into place
with a satisfying whir. For a second,
it all feels normal…
Then the pulse of dial-tone dictates heartbeat.
A lung-full of steam billows out.
You dial the final number to nowhere,
a silent tone.
How have you been?
What have you been eating?
It’s cold today,
wear something warm.
Do you think of me?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the dead
of late and what I might say to them. Truth is,
I don’t know. I stand in front of graves
with nothing to say.
Nothing but wind between us.
I’ve seen how it’s done
on television, in theaters,
but words catch.
So wind is what I say,
and I hope you will hear.
It feels tacky,
speaking into the wind,
but so does saying nothing.
EDDIE KIM received his MFA in Poetry from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is a Kundiman fellow from Seattle who served as the inaugural Pacific Northwest Kundiman Regional Chair. His poems have appeared in Poetry Northwest, The Margins, The Collagist, and others. He currently lives in Seoul, South Korea and teaches at Yonsei University’s Underwood International College.