Last Boat Home

On the lighted dock, I wait for the ferry
that will take me across the Hudson. Yangtze. Styx.
All these rivers have no lid. Why not jump in
and swim back to that place? We came from

the water. A slow pour of pu’er—crimson brew.
Dried leaves brick flowering. Steam licking
off the top of my cup. The tea steeping, darkened
into night, into shadows that will never sink

into themselves. This is the last boat home,
the captain says, his voice rattling over the intercom.
I give him my ticket and lean over the rail.
I watch the land pull back and the lovely city

disappear from sight. My grandmother cannot sleep
in an empty house. My mother cannot sleep
when her mind is in flight. That metal is built
into this vessel. The only escape is to abandon ship.

Malacca River

When the rain came, sweet earth bloomed. /
The river’s wound healed, swelling to meet /
the first lightning strike in a kiss. Still buried /
in the silt of the riverbed, I opened my mouth /
to taste the first drop—as acrid as raw honey.


We sat together in the country
where men like us can sit together
like this.