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Gabriella Torres

Dear Gina,


I’m writing you because I cannot call. Today is one of those bird days where all you want to do is crawl behind your wings and hide or cry or fly away to you don’t even know where anymore. I guess I am homesick and lonely, which isn’t anything new. But, it’s a bit different here because I can’t just call you to talk. Gina, I am in Seoul and getting older, and the birds here are surprisingly scarce.


When I wrote these poems (enclosed) my heart was full with October, which has since bled into November and it will soon be December and there seems to be no immediate relief in sight.  In the end, even flight doesn’t save you from the autumnal blues, but I think you knew that already. And, well, so did I. So, this feeling of fall, though sad and lonely, is comforting. And maybe that’s why I don’t want to hang out with anybody right now, so that I can be comforted by the season with thoughts of home or poetry, which I suppose, in the end, are really the same thing.


Tomorrow the kids are having their middle school festival. They’ve written poems, which are now decorating the stairwell of the school. Like Catpower said, “It must be the colors and the kids that keep me alive, ‘cause the music is boring me to death.”


Everyone in Seoul is holding hands, everyone except for the ghosts.


Send words soon.






“…these palpable distances, the field I felt…”





When you

look at me

it is obvious

that you see

a type of bird

in the room,

a sparrow or

finch, something

delicate, fragile

like glass fingers.


Because of this,

you stand at

a distance, still

as a glass of milk

and turning

into so many

burning cities.






This tightness

in my chest

belongs to

your army

of ancient horses

found only

on the expanse

of your back.

They watch,

listen, breathe—







Because I cannot

have you again

I write and draw

your outline on

the white walls

of my one room

apartment, being sure

to catch the fish

swimming in your

eyes, the way

they would circle

around me.






Seoul is

the sound

of magpies

coming in through

your window

as the dawn

begins to drag

its fingers down

your wall, leaving

its incandescent trail

behind as proof

that the night

is over.






The space

between us

acts like water,

adjusting to

each movement

of your breath,

a canyon I will

not cross again.


The river widens

as it breaks

around your legs,

and I am engulfed

by this, then this.






What I do know

is that I sleep

so well in your

bed, especially

when you pretend

not to be in it, close

to the wall in order

to avoid being

close to me.


One day

I will certainly

leave you, perhaps

have my own

bed to sleep in,

a house for my

dreams to make

paper cranes

and remember

the way you

habitually twitched

your right leg,

completely unaware

that your chair

was shaking.






I will never

let you know

what it is

you have lost

because I am still

in your bedroom

holding your hand

up to the light.






I look forward

to the time

when I can

finally leave you

and go back

to Iowa, the mud

between my

fingers, the river

at my knees,

at which point

I may finally

be cleansed and free

to release you

into the water,

a body replenished—

now restored.


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