Lantern Review | Issue 9.3

E. J. Koh


One night five of us got high watching TV
A hand grabbed the crotch of my jeans

It occurred to me what might happen
if I told them to stop. We were fifteen

They kept me where I watched myself
touched like a baby. Incomprehension

for pubic bone too slender. I was illiterate
in the first grade when I couldn’t spell

balloon but filled myself with air
so that I could be read. They pawed me

like a ball, a parachute, a pair of shoes
Those boys are probably dead now

In the ground where they could stay
still but never exactly the same

The soil says to them what I won’t
Don’t look away

Photo of E. J. Koh E. J. Koh is the author of the memoir The Magical Language of Others (Tin House Books, 2020), winner of the Washington State Book Award, winner of the Pacific Northwest Book Award, longlisted for the PEN Open Book Award, and author of the poetry collection A Lesser Love (Louisiana State University Press, 2017), winner of the Pleiades Editors Prize for Poetry. She is the co-translator of Yi Won’s poetry collection The World’s Lightest Motorcycle (Zephyr Press, 2021). Koh has received fellowships from the American Literary Translators Association, MacDowell, and Kundiman. Her poems, translations, and stories have appeared in AGNI, Boston Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, POETRY, Slate, and elsewhere. • Photo by Adam K. Glaser

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