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things I do in the name of you

     Esther Ra

I swallow clocks without chewing.

I laugh at mirrors, broken-tongued and harmless

compared to the I in your eyes. I pull rubies

out of my mouth and pile them under

my pillow: useless, preposterous treasures.

Wine rippling under my skin. Goosebumps

in the place of ghostflesh. I am

frenzied and peaceful, hungry

and rich. I smile so hard people think

I have opened a vein of gold. You dazzle

until I have to look away: I the scrambling,

six-legged ant, you the glass magnifying

the sun. I can’t hide in metaphors

anymore. I can’t pretend I’m not

aching for you.

I am pressing myself

into paper, to stop hurling

my yearning at you. Sifted sand of you.

Murmur of you. Touch of you. I am writing

my way through a blizzard of words

to survive the soft sunflare of you.

Esther Ra is a bilingual writer who alternates between California and Seoul, South Korea. She is the author of A Glossary of Light and Shadow (Diode Editions, 2023, recipient of the Diode Full-Length Book Prize) and book of untranslatable things (Grayson Books, 2018). Her work has been published in Boulevard, The Florida Review, Rattle, The Rumpus, Bellingham Review, and Korea Times, among others. She has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Pushcart Prize, 49th Parallel Award for Poetry, Women Writing War Poetry Award, and Sweet Lit Poetry Award. Esther is currently a J.D. candidate at Stanford Law School. (

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