Reading by the author

Washington, D.C., 2019

We have made the wrong mistakes.

I run into a landscape of kites held by hundreds
of invisible hands. From a distance, their flight
makes no sound and what’s meant to move
keeps still, carries words from me.

The crowd finds space for one another,
eyes pinned to the sky, empty no longer.
Against the obelisk, time appears to hover.
Nothing stands for itself alone.

Yet we question that peace might waver,
that we can’t make room for many more.
So strange and fragile these birds
without wings.

No way to sever what’s seen from the unseen.

Poet's Note

As someone who has lived in the same city almost her whole life, it’s exhilarating to still discover new things about my home, especially one that carries the expectation of simultaneous transience and gridlock. I was on my regular Saturday afternoon run to the Lincoln Memorial when, on a whim, I decided to go the extra mile down to the mall, knowing the effort of zig-zagging between the crowds would be a workout in and of itself. And then, there it was. Completely unexpected and yet intuitively where it belonged. Hundreds of kites, which from a distance appeared as birds caught mid-flight, a wreath around the Washington monument. When I tried to say how it took my breath away, my friends told me to write about it. So this is what I’m writing towards—harmony, literal and figurative, can feel so natural in the moment that it makes us wonder why we ever thought we couldn’t get along in the first place. We can surprise each other. We can surprise ourselves. And once we see what distant beauty is possible when many of us hold on to a tenuous string we can’t see the end of, then we have a responsibility to guard it. And a responsibility to usher it back. E pluribus unum.