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About this poet

Ed Bok Lee grew up in South Korea, North Dakota, and Minnesota. He is the author of Whorled (Coffee House Press, 2011), which received the 2012 American Book Award and Minnesota Book Award, and Real Karaoke People (New Rivers Press, 2005), which received the PEN/Open Book Award and the Asian American Literary Award (Members’ Choice).

Water in Love

How to love like water loves
when it’s impossible to even taste
all the ghostly sediments
each time you take a sip

Impossible to savor
the salt in your blood
the light and island shorelines
in each living cell

When even the plainest mouthful
tastes more of you than you of it

Sweetest of absences
that frees in wave after wave
debris of thought like the dead,
the drowned, the vanished, and yet
sails your lips
on a voyage toward another’s, plying
all luck and regret

Worship, splash, guzzle, or forget
It clears any difference
Stone washer and mountain dissolver
that will
outlive us, even the memory of
all any eyes touched

Wasp and cactus in a desert
Comet through outer space
Sleep among all the cloud-shepherds’ children

A love so perpetually current
it doesn’t care that you love
without even knowing you love
what you couldn’t survive
three days without

How to love like that: wild
dream-sparkler and meticulous architect
of every snowflake
Wise, ebullient, and generous
as the rain

Deepest of miracles
for a time
borrowing and replenishing
a self
overflowing with fate

From Mitochondrial Night (Coffee House Press, 2019). Copyright © 2019 Ed Bok Lee. Used with permission of the author and Coffee House Press. This poem originally appeared in Hayden's Ferry Review, Fall-Winter 2017.

From Mitochondrial Night (Coffee House Press, 2019). Copyright © 2019 Ed Bok Lee. Used with permission of the author and Coffee House Press. This poem originally appeared in Hayden's Ferry Review, Fall-Winter 2017.

Ed Bok Lee

Ed Bok Lee is the author of Whorled (Coffee House Press, 2011) and Real Karaoke People (New Rivers Press, 2005).