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Synonyms for Distance

include embossed nonchalance

include measures of breath

rising, daintily, from the soft

soft curves of a glass

bowl, its lipline

hesitant, jade tinkling.


I don’t know whether my

neighbors, too, listen

suspended

by such song, the accordion

player across the street

sings staccato, globe-


glissando drafting through

windows of myself in view:

a prayer from the arteries

of the city, walls shadowed and

smooth where she bellows in a suit.

I trail her hands’ flight over


a sea of keys,

pulling in and out the psalm


of that fluted lung. It drifts

above us running the streets

across hat stalls & newspaper stands

and I’m amazed at the many ways

her fingers dance, both across

and in time with the specifics


of breathing—an accordion, an

ocean. Somewhere across the Pacific,

two women begin to sing, spinning

like old boats. I long to listen;

how the lotuses, a mother

and daughter, would soak


with dew till their petals tipped

into each other, pouring rain


into water—music so slow, so soft,

and soaked too soon.



Isabelle Wei is a Korean-Chinese writer, journalist, and poet.

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