“Reversible Poem in Dishwater,” a Poem by Emily Lee Luan

From the Collection 回 / Return

April 24, 2023  By Emily Lee Luan

He carried me into the kitchen to get a glass of water
He reached for a cup in the sink filled with dishwater
Wait I said and opened the cabinet for a glass
Still he went for the cup in the sink
Why do you want to drink from a dirty glass I asked
It doesn’t need to be clean he said
But accepted the clean one I held out to him

I held out a clean glass to him
He accepted he said clean is a need isn’t it
I asked to drink from a dirty glass
I want you
The sink the cup still a glass cabinet open
I waited filled with dishwater
The cup sinking he reached for me
The kitchen carried me into the glass


Excerpted from 回 / Return by Emily Lee Luan. Copyright © 2023. Used with permission of the publisher, Nightboat Books.

Emily Lee Luan
Emily Lee Luan
Emily Lee Luan is the author of 回 / Return (April 2023), a winner of the Nightboat Poetry Prize, and I Watch the Boughs, selected by Gabrielle Calvocoressi for a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship. A former Margins Fellow at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop and the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry 2021, Best New Poets 2019, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Rutgers University–Newark.

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