2 Poems by Arah Ko

Arah Ko on September 11, 2020



Myself, your unhealthy


child; lung-scarred, rattle

breathed, a waif. I will always

fear drowning on the land,


abandoned by the wind

gods, kami kaze 神風, breath

of the sky. You spooned


medicine: black herbs,

elderberry, valerian,

painted frankincense


and tea tree perfume in

holy pockets at my wrists,

hollows of my throat. When


undertows snapped at

my ankles as a child, you

rescued me. I can still taste


seaspit vomit on the sand,

salt and kelp, a backwards



Once you start unbreathing,

the heart squeezes, innocent

of this failing. If I wear this halo,


I trust you to unbury me.


Is this how it felt

             at your coronation? Crown

of thorns, a heavy

             burden you would never ask

me to carry, if you

             could carry it for me.

We call diffracted

             moonlight crown, if it is cold

enough: corona, icy

             halo, court of the sky. I am

scared to breathe

             now, to cough, to look my

neighbors in the eyes,

             afraid of glowing like the holy

dead, gold disc pressed

             against my skull. Only now can I

fathom you in the

             flesh; how your palms must

have felt on the sick

             and frightened. How, when thorns

pierced your scalp,

             you really bled.