Two Poems

By: Alisha Yi


the maw of an umbrella is something
              close to human. soaked in summer chlorine,
                            unused to these types of intensities. 
in the beginning, we open it                                        
              with our mouths. the hides of our canine teeth,
                            skinny tongues, prefigured. & create something                                              
blooming in the back of our throats, greased
              with diluted acid. like tiny orbits full of salt.
                            all of them magnetized. we learn that only 
the quietest things survive by marring themselves
              into holes, made to be filled again. so we arch 
                            our taut backs to be like them, unpeeling                                            
in darkness. we find how they disappear 
              so quickly, become addicted
                            to little things like rainwater, constellated light 
maps, small white lies, beehive clusters. how they spill
              themselves into rivers, leave orts open, 
                            in all sorts white & limitless.


On the ride back home, I think of August, 
that spellbound summer. Afternoons in haze, flies
in heat like sweat. We were still young, our eyelids heavy 
under the midday sun, arms outstretched in downpour. 
Most days, we were dreaming in the crushes of bushes, 
our calves belt red, cicadas humming summer lust. High above, 
birds took flight across the field, while we plucked 
for tomato heads, hoarded the baskets with calloused hands. 
In my grandmother’s orchard, the clammy air always 
felt sweet, lulled like lotuses’ open mouths, sticky
in copper light. Here, our spoons dug into watermelon skins, the heat 
sinking in rain. We remembered curfew
by the birds’ cries, which thinned at dusk, like the sky now, 
rail passing the dirt path. Somewhere in the dust and rain, in that 
narrow garden behind the white greenhouse dome, we are scrubbing 
our hands with split lemons and stone soap, the water 
seeping in land.

Alisha Yi is a poet from Las Vegas, Nevada. A 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, her work appears in Slice Magazine, The Adroit Journal, wildness, and Cimarron Review among others. She currently attends Harvard College.