Bittersweet Longing

by Monica Youn

on the train, I thought
we were attacked

by light:
chrome-winged birds
hatching from the lagoon.

That first day
the buoys were all
that made the harbor

pennies sewn into a hemline.
Later I learned to live in it,

to walk
through the alien city—
a beekeeper’s habit—

with fierce light
clinging to my head and hands.
Treated as gently as every

other guest—
each house’s barbed antennae
trawling for any kind

of weather—
still I sobbed in a glass box
on an unswept street

with the last
few lire ticking like fleas
off my phonecard I’m sorry

I can’t
stand this, which
one of us do you love?

Venice, Unaccompanied

Last updated March 20, 2023