“The Mountaintop”

A Poem by Sandra Lim

September 16, 2021  By Sandra Lim

In truth, you still expect to order your life
in peace; you continue to long for glamour and passion.

To guard against the destiny
you don’t really know, you work furiously.

Pensive and unathletic as you are, you have
your own intricate schedule,

with your shopping bags and appointments.
You always forget you’re a bag of blood.

In sleep, these things lose
their power over you.

Meaninglessness does to you
what it can. When you wake, you have no ideas;

the heart is momentarily light.
As you slip back into the days, you find

you haven’t done with certain notions yet.
You read all the time, help yourself to a plate of oysters.

The dreams become fresh and astounding once more,
renewed by the drama of betrayal.

Even the self you take to be so real
falls away while you labor,

and the only stones left are the ones in your throat,
forgone things you have to get down fast

or else you’ll choke. At last, you don’t even know
what you feel for yourself.

The mountaintop: you can keep your books
and your music there. What’s bad in one story

is good in another. Something has made you brave.
There is more to life than writing.


The Curious Thing, Sandra Lim

Excerpted from The Curious Thing by Sandra Lim. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton. Copyright © 2021 by Sandra Lim. 

Sandra Lim
Sandra Lim
Sandra Lim was born in Seoul, South Korea. She is the author of three poetry collections, The Curious Thing, Loveliest Grotesque and The Wilderness, chosen by Louise Glück for the Barnard Women Poets Prize. She has received many honors for her work, including the Levis Reading Prize, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from MacDowell and the Getty Foundation. She is a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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