Sandra Lim




I had a little stove and a wick of wakefulness

in my sleep.


In the mornings, I heard the train roar and go up

into the center of things.


I circulated thoughts like,

Crisp, cool lettuce or a starved rabbit: which am I?


I would take long walks and say to no one,

When I was first married …


I saw all of Luis Buñuel’s films inside of a week

and warmed to our comparable debasements.


I wasn’t young, I wasn’t old, I was still nibbling

at what lay before me.


And later, when I didn’t have the energy

to hide myself from the flavors of the changing world,


I planned a few things, too.

Dream of St. Ursula



When I woke up I was in a dream. I was


In my room with the nodding myrtle and carnation


Plants, abiding a vision. All year I had been throwing


Away the daily lunch prepared for me. I was reading


A book about hunting and preparing to love the wilds,


Physical danger. My crown made me feel worldly.


I didn’t yet have grace,


The angel murmurs the word,


Surrender. He holds a quill as if he writes my fate.


My fate! I did not know that God would take


Such inventive pleasure in us, that he would compel


Me into images far beyond my imagination. I was


Reading a book and I was readying to love.


I never dreamt that he would pursue a story’s end


Without undue compassion for its characters.




No cities, no stars.

Then, begging


on your knees

each night


to make new noises

of those


inexpressible cities, those

uncontrollable stars.


SANDRA LIM is the author of The Wilderness (W.W. Norton, 2014), selected by Louise Glück for the 2013 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and a previous collection of poetry, Loveliest Grotesque (Kore Press, 2006). A 2015 Pushcart Prize winner, she has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Getty Research Institute. Lim was born in Seoul, Korea and educated at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and lives in Cambridge, MA.