poem index

An Elegy

by Su Hwang

How far do you have to travel to arrive
at dying—they seem to be asking, but you might 
 
as well be alone in this room, its bruised walls and shanty 
window looking at nothing, spiked lines of a horizon 
 
to indicate your breathing.  Chortle then a gasp, running
in your mind’s field through windswept dandelions
 
and knee-high grass, blades bristling against
your skin like the needle feeding you, to a clearing
 
where he kissed you long and earnestly.  Your lips
part in memory, a sunken jaw caked with Vaseline, 
 
gaping, desperate to recapture the feeling of flesh
on flesh when you were once essential.  You bite
 
down hard at the finger massaging your barren gums,
your wisp of a face turning a cat’s indecipherable grin.  
 
It’s decided you’ve still got a little left in you, but 
there is no use for such sentiments in the realm of sleep
 
when your tongue, tied, weighed down like a bag of stones
cast in a swollen river writhes with itself.  Faces
 
you do not know or remember are speaking 
with their hands, shadowboxing the waning autumn
 
light.  You can only hear the sound of rushing 
water filling your bed, ears, throat, your sopping 
 
mouth, drowning slowly in all that remains unsaid.