I flinch a little as I reach for it, this practice
we do each night in bed,
our pillow talk these days,
when sending ourselves off to sleep
needs less effort than late night sex.
Does this flinch expose how little regard
I have for joy? Is this why I clasp our one-
dollar journal like an amulet? One time I wrote
oysters at the balcony, all
shucked by you.
Another day, sleeping in.
You always thank a task at work,
some beautiful fish or other.
Tonight is a small entry: the word and,
how I carry a small syllable
to bridge in me the scared
and sacred, to help me sing well enough
the everyday swirls
and chaos. Can I do one small
thing to further us along?
My early ancestors survived
by turning towards what
they must destroy. They killed
so much, and now I don’t have to,
at least, not as much, especially
not myself, not the tenderest part.
Karen Llagas’s first collection of poetry, Archipelago Dust, was published by Meritage Press in 2010. A recipient of a Filamore Tabios, Sr. Memorial Poetry Prize, Hedgebrook residency, and a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, her poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Rhino, Crab Orchard Review, Troubling Borders, An Anthology of Art and Literature by Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora (University of Washington Press, 2014), and The Place That Inhabits Us: Poems of the San Francisco Bay Watershed (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2010). She lectures at UC-Berkeley and lives in Los Angeles and San Francisco.