I’m dreaming of Vietnam again, basket boats
of fish and flowers, old lovers, my grandmother’s face,
the way time shoots forward and backward, how I’m riding
the Junks across Halong Bay’s sepal green skin,
my body like a stranger at the market, handling Rambutan
with its messy fringe, my body a ghost in a season of heat.
Where did she go, that stranger? Here, it’s spring outside,
cold then colder, it won’t make up its mind if buds are to blossom
or retract, if we can ease into our bodies or remain at odds,
swimming in our clothes. I remember a spring when I had her,
when I didn’t know what was coming. That time is also now.
Already, the losses have begun to tally in the sky’s wide notebook,
a sun in the center like a splotch of ink. I don’t mean God, I mean
how the earth makes its own sense—ships that once sailed off
the horizon’s edge into darkness were still sailing, even when
we couldn’t see them, even if for us, the ships were gone.
Maybe my old loves are the ships. Maybe the stranger on the junk,
her solitary life strung like a thousand moons, also sails,
just in a different direction, the smooth hull of her life carving water
in twin lines, casting salt that brines every ocean that can be crossed.
Meghan Sterling lives in Portland, Maine with her family. Her work has been published in Rattle, Cider Press Review, Inflectionist Review, Glass: Poet’s Resist, Rise Up Review, Sky Island Journal, Literary Mama, Mom Egg Review, Enough: Poems of Resistance and Protest and many others. She is Associate Poetry Editor of the Maine Review, a Dibner Fellow at the 2020 Black Fly Writer’s Retreat, and a Hewnoaks Artist Colony Resident in 2019 and 2021. Her collection These Few Seeds is out in April 2021 from Terrapin Books. Her work can be found at meghansterling.com