Between Ubud and Kuta there are strips of sugarcane
and a trail of footsteps I leave behind.
See—walking’s harder with mountains on your back,
and rain doesn’t spare the poor.
I head to the beach with a towel slung
over my shoulder,
the grey slab of sky hanging above
the palm leaves and their untroubled faces.
Hours later, a man offers me a ride on his motorbike
so I cling to his hips
and make conversation in between cigarette drags.
I’m just arriving in my foreign clothes, my words
crooked and stumbling out of my mouth,
the tropical heat licking my face clean.
I imagine my mother’s body
scattered across the earth like seeds,
I water each one as if she’ll grow back.
Her death a tire swing
I drag through the summer,
my accent swallowed whole
as she sinks into soil,
her history alive in the brownness of my skin.
The Art of Leaving
Mornings I lie beside your dreaming
body, draped in fractured light
as another cloud waits
to be sliced into petals. Even when
we kiss like our mouths have nowhere
else to be, the pink ribbon
of dawn I twist around
your thumb, you will not remember
the cup of tea I bring you
to pass time, my half-expected
shadow hung above the door,
how the bathwater grew cold
the night before. You will only remember
the words whimpering inside
you, my face a billow of wind
that stirs the quiet bluegrass.
Breakup Poem, Ponchatoula Creek
A crane hunting for fish
catches my heart instead, a glass house
as I crouch by the streambed
watching the mango sky ripen.
The morning you left I returned
to the same spot, by the dead frog
and shriveled worms,
the trees thinner, the grass browner.
The crane unties my heart, a ribbon of loss
while I’m remembering you
veiled in winged moonlight,
leaning against her silver spine.
How spoiled I am
to have known you, nameless flower
of sadness, silence is your favorite
color to wear.
The crane takes flight and you fall
with every last feather,
I am the frog swallowed whole.
At night I look out my window
and the moon is still the moon,
her round belly glowing
as she swings from the sky,
I’m waving to your ghost, can’t you see?
Kyna Smith is an Indonesian-American poet who lived in Jakarta, Indonesia for seven years before moving to Wilmington, Delaware. She currently studies English Literature at the University of Delaware and plans to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing. In her free time, she likes to travel, play the guitar, and sing.