The notes in the air are awakening, deep
in thought, and a little cold, probably
stretching just before the declaration
emerging from the bell of the clarinet that the boy
is wielding in the light, closer, still passing
notes with love or another warm thing that the boy
associates with the phrase see you soon
which he last heard from the cracked lips of a man
who trekked from South Korea to Bensalem,
to the steps of the boy’s home, and warmly asked,
where is your father? The answer, inside,
in sorrow, not ready for death again, yet
the father stood and greeted his friend and they drank.
The man left, saying the phrase, ringing
and welding in the dark, closer still, in the mouth
boy clamping down on reed releasing lung
from grounding—lift-off—heating now and entering
the fray: the halo of sound which reverberated
in the auditorium’s dark, wondrous space, lip to lip
with the secondary songs: every other woodwind and horn
dancing now, gliding along the comforting pulse
of drums, guiding the boy, distanced silhouettes matching
pace and spinning in approval thinking, yes, yes, yes
a farewell can also be a plea, a declaration of love
toward less waves, more smiles, applause.
Thank you. Thank you.

Cover art by Siri Margaret Stensberg

Note: This poem was the runner-up in the 2019 Blood Orange Review Poetry Contest, as selected by Jericho Brown.

Joseph Gunho Jang

Joseph Gunho Jang has received a fellowship and support from the University of Pittsburgh, where he studies under Dawn Lundy Martin. His work has appeared in Three Rivers Review and Zeniada. He is currently working on a full-length manuscript.

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