Continent

          Contact: from the Latin for touch.
          Isolate: from the Latin for island.

Because your breath had touched mine,
I was obliged to metamorphose
into a separate land mass,
to wear a collar of brine
like a heavy gurgling yoke
around a neck of windswept black basalt,
to accept being defined
by a measurable circumference
and a finite diameter,
to have borders no one disputed,
topography no one surveyed,
terrain no one mapped,
accessible only to birds and fish,
cut off from earth’s seething gene pool
so long the crows nesting in my navel
evolved into a novel species,
their language of caws
impossible for a mainland raven to parse,
to become parsonic, thrifty, small, a person
used to gazing on distances
of monotone water, geologic-scale vistas,
perspectives patient and vast.

Jenna Le is one of Pulse’s poetry editors. Her third full-length poetry collection, Manatee Lagoon, is forthcoming this year from Acre Books. Her other poetry collections are Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2018), an Elgin Awards second-place winner. Her poems have appeared in AGNI, Denver Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Pleiades, Poet Lore, Verse Daily and West Branch. Her artworks have appeared in Pulse, Jubilat, Lantern Review, Lily Poetry Review and Mom Egg Review. She works as a physician and educator in New York City.

About the Poem

“Partly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have grown very interested in the psychological and philosophical ramifications of solitude, something I attempted to address in this poem.”

Comments

3 thoughts on “Continent”

  1. Well captured. We are made for human contact and isolation takes a big toll. Thanks for sharing this poem

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