Surviving Inklings

Cindy Juyoung Ok

You lose friends to bothdeath and unusually livelywithdrawal, as well as givesome up, as anticipated,to misunderstanding. Youleave those you assuredyou would not leave and,too, people have leftyou in silence and withoutreason but presumablybecause of your intensity,which you have long heardfrom friends, never lovers,for whom it was the draw.When you leave you rarelythink about those left, soperhaps it is like that forthose who leave you:typically no story, withevery tensile explanationpartial, each narrativeconvenient, and changing.You reserve the secretsof theirs you remember,pray occasionally for theirfamilies, and praise silentlysome whistle of generosityyou witnessed. You forgetthe contours slowly, inthe long second leaving,neutrality a structureyou learned to glamorize,the way you have come toimagine doors as rectangular.Under limits of the boxyentry, you think of citiesas grids, describe a bird asthe tint of ink, forgettingthat ink can be any color.

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Cindy Juyoung Ok has poems in The Massachusetts Review, Narrative, and The Nation, and in a chapbook, House Work (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2023), as well as translations of Kim Hyesoon’s poems in Asymptote, The Margins, and Hayden Ferry’s Review. She currently teaches creative writing at Wellesley College.

December 2022

Chicago, Illinois

Adrian Matejka

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Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Harriet Monroe’s “Open Door” policy, set forth in Volume I of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry’s mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre, or approach.

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