Summer, and you are
calm and inexorable as the next page.
Because I can’t bear predestination,

the landscape is what leaves,
not me. After all
who can reproach these beaches?

Such foams!
Themselves memory of the
singing of swan roads. Themselves

another letting go
of the dead from the living. I lay my
sediment down and the rest goes up.


It's Possible the Days March Forward


Here everything sees you, 
even in the groundwaters that swell
and gather in the bottom of the well, 
where one crouches and cleans a hem.

This afternoon Emma Bovary tipped forward
and black mud ran from her mouth. Someone, 
in preserving her hair, dark as that mud,
sliced her temple twice instead. One (that means

me) wonders how this ichor tastes. To drink
from the mouth of Bovary means to know
the distinction of good and good enough. 
We wish we had told her so. Emma, that’s enough.

We, like she, dismayed by the banner silks
that herald our bodies—how punctured! 
How blown thin by the breaths and wheezes
of anyone we’d call a friend. Well,

I too am disappointed. Every day is retreat.
I recede like a woman who believes dying
is easy but keeps tasting it again and again.
And nothing comes close to it.



Esther Lin is a 2015 Poets House Emerging Poet and Queens Council on the Arts Fellow, with poems in or forthcoming in The Cortland Review, Tinderbox, and Newtown Literary. She teaches in the English Department at Queens College, CUNY.