Seeker and Sought (How Poetry Found Me)

It found me falling asleep on my mother’s lap,

Listening to her recite Li Bai’s quatrains

In a language I pretend to understand more than I actually do

I am every flaw she tried to cast off into the Pacific

On her 18-hour flight to this strange place

Yet I know I am loved


It found me

Sitting up against the playground fence

I have always thought myself to be

the simmering before the boil,

thin wisps of steam like question marks

disappearing before anyone can answer,

Why won’t they ask me to join?



It found me

The same why I found how hard it can be

To stay strong when the crack in your voice

Is split open like a dam by shameful waters

I am the inhale before the scream, once, twice, three times

Before eking out a whimper


It found me

The same why I tried to find

Every bone splinter fragment of myself I’d lost,



Or gave to the first boy I ever loved like candy to an eager toddler

I am the halfway-letter you scrawled for him with streaky pen

Before you send me you’ve changed your mind


It finds me now again,

Strong enough to know

When to be weak

Weak enough to worry

If I am strong enough,

I am like the flame you tend to in the fireplace,

To keep me contained and keep yourself warm,

I didn’t consume you

But I could have.




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