104: Poem for an Antique Korean Fishing Bobber

April 18, 2019 · 5:00
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Poem for an Antique Korean Fishing Bobber
by Dobby Gibson

Little glass planet,
I like picking you up.
As if I’m holding my own thought,
one blown molten with a puff
of some craftsman’s breath⏤is it still inside you?
You are a beautiful bauble it’s hard to imagine
anyone hurling you into the sea,
but eventually we all have a job to do.
I think of the early mornings and storm warnings
you braved to find the village dinner.
I don’t remember carrying you
home on the plane from Seoul,
crew dozing behind the cockpit door,
autopilot engaged⏤what were they dreaming of?
I don’t even know what shore
you washed up on: Busan, Incheon, Samcheok.
Are you glad we made you a home here so far
from the sea? is a question I won’t ask in case
your answer is the one you don’t want to give.
I love how perfectly you fit in my hand,
at first cold, and the way the morning looks
through you, as green and cloudy
as an unknown we no longer fear.
But I wouldn’t want to be held up
to the sun either, not because I’m a monster,
but because I, too, am transparent and trusting,
and mistake both for the truth.
Beneath our lives there are sordid undulations
and embraces brief and sweet,
a nearly invisible line connecting us to the fleet,
with every breath worth saving,
like the sip of air inside us
full of an old sea’s grace
or the ancient word hidden in our lungs
that once released back into the wild
will finally set us free.

“Poem for an Antique Korean Fisher Bobber,” from the forthcoming LITTLE GLASS PLANET by Dobby Gibson. Copyright © 2019 by Dobby Gibson. Used by permission of Graywolf Press.