Think of yourself as you would a story. There are so many
we'll tell you, but this one is yours.
Gray light, the teakettle now tepid— curtains uncurl last hour's air
over the garrulous park. And we here, our home
a hemisphere west
of this hide-a-bed's palm, wonder:have we distilled you
into our bodies' warm pores? In Moscow, in this highrise
of checkerboard lights, I find myself capable
of making and it is no work.
How much harder to picture you
before you're conceived: as heat lingering where the ceiling fan
swept it; above a street map
spread out with markered notes:
here is WHERE we live and there (see the arrows) is where we'll go.
These are the beginnings we weave
into your story's small arc. For now you are all
I love here (the blini, the diesel smell,
the stray dogs, the beer)
as I remember the story I heard
before flying east:
A dying man
asks a friend to dismember his body and toss the pieces, one by
one, into a canyon below.
The condors, dutiful as ever, will bear him back up
through the sky.
Perhaps we are the dead man
and you are the condor—
Perhaps our old lives will continue as we walk past the kiosks in the parks.
Derek Mong is the author of two collections from Saturnalia Books, Other Romes (2011) and The Identity Thief (forthcoming, 2018); the poetry editor at Mantis: A Journal of Poetry, Criticism, & Translation; and a blogger at KROnline. He recently completed a Ph.D. at Stanford University, writing on marriage in the lives and afterlives of Whitman and Dickinson. A former Axton Fellow at the University of Louisville and Halls Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin, he lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and son. He has received the Editors' Choice Prize from the Missouri Review and two Hopwood Awards. New poetry, criticism, and translations have appeared (or will soon appear) in the Kenyon Review, Printer's Devil Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Michigan Quarterly Review, and the Gettysburg Review. Find him online at www.derekmong.com (firstname.lastname@example.org)