Back to Issue Thirty-Two


Previously appeared in The Margins.
2020 Gregory Djanikian Scholar in Poetry, Finalist

The grey night, walking home, we found
sunflowers leaning against the fence as heavy
as heads. In the morning, you held my head
in your palm, and we stared at each other down
the long length of your arm. We swayed together,
if only for a little while. Then you kissed my toe
and left. I pulled the comforters out after.
You had sweat the bed; the room bloomed
with your sweetness. I thought You can know
somebody for a long while and not know their scent.
I thought Love, is it for me? Could anybody ruin
me? A week later, the sunflowers were gone,
overhead, just sky. In the driveway next
to the empty stalks was the family that lived
in the blue house behind the garden. A little boy
played with a fire truck. His mother and father
smiled at me as they held the de-petaled heads—
fondly, combing their soft faces. On the ground,
so many seeds! It felt like the final revelation
for a long while. We laughed together, then,
the mother, father, and I, and the sunflowers
laughed too, because they knew the loss was not
a loss after all, and the sunflower seeds, too, joined
in, opening their pinched mouths, and all together
we were a high chorus and they sang to me
as I continued down the road, the many feet
of their voices carrying my small heartbreak.



Locus Amoenus with Migrating Deer

2020 Gregory Djanikian Scholar in Poetry, Finalist

So much was set in winter:
My sister and I standing
in the white yard feeling

small and alive as only
children can, the snow
blaring down as we brought

carrots into the woods,
tied them up with gold
string for the migrating

deer. In the kitchen, my father
chanted a Taoist prayer;
my mother worried the floors.

I sleep alone now, as I did
in those years, each morning
peeling open like a quiet road.

At the train station, I’m always
terrified someone will jump
in front of the coming train—

more for myself than for them.
I hope no one will push me
in front of the coming train

because then I’ll know
it is possible. How many years
have I slept alone? I feel safe only

in knowing that my father, too,
fears death. Far away, my mother
strings carrots across the trees.

We never went back to see
if they were gone. The deer
leave patterns in the yard.




Emily Lee Luan is a Taiwanese American poet and essayist. A recipient of fellowships from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Community of Writers, Art Farm, and the Fine Arts Work Center, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets (2019), The Rumpus, Washington Square Review, The Offing, The Margins, and elsewhere. She is a 2020 Margins Fellow at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and holds an MFA in Poetry from Rutgers University-Newark.

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