Wax Poetry and Art Magazine #2 –

"At the Outskirts of Jeju and Other Poems" by Amy Lee


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Published September 1st, 2023

Featured Poet Contest #2 – First Place

At the Outskirts of Jeju and Other Poems

by Amy Lee
(Seongnam, Gyeonggi, South Korea)

Ulleungdo's Labyrinth

Down here, halabeoji had told her, on a
level almost with the water, she could
follow with her eyes the ceaseless,
swelling passage of Ulleungdo's depth.
They were miles wide, breathing back
and forth against the white sand, ushering
in cascades of retreating water. The sea
would now disappear into darkness along
with the tides, burying groups of coiled sola
kkeobjil and hyeonmuams beneath layers of
gritty sand, plastering strands of seaweed
knotted on the shores they could not leave.
And when darkness was to finally flow around
the beach like a tide coming from the bottom
of the sea, halabeoji stood ankle-deep in the
warm water, watching as his granddaughter
carried buckets of water back into the village.
The last lights in the neighborhood insist on
dimming, and a flurry of wind made the palms
talk, the silence so noticeable.

At the Outskirts of Jeju

At the outskirts of Jeju, morning
mist hovered over the river birch,
and the sky leaked drops of rain,
but these didn't fall from anywhere,
my halmeoni said. It was just the
leftovers of the stream collapsing
on itself. Further along the trail,
beyond the little pools and near a
great slab of rock, thin trickles of
water flow down into the shallow
rivers. Nothing here remains,
nothing low. Because halmeoni
had said before, I had a man from
the stream haunt me once. Each
day as I walked along the creek
early morning along the taut blue
line of the horizon, she sat under
the tree's canopy. It sounded like
the voices of fishermen swimming
in the rivers behind her. And one
day when we didn't hear them, we
were sure they had been washed
away down along the muddy banks.

Early October in Seodaesan

The wind comes inland to Geumsan like a
river of spark, blowing out towards the outskirts
of the Seodaesan,        thick ribbon braided with
the stream's running water.

Warm air fills        soft cracks in the rock,
each stone puddled with water as if a rainstorm
has just swept the square.

Silver birch unloads,        their maple underleaves
coating the layer of mire.
There is no rain here in the village,
though the soil's already full, and the air carries
feeble sounds        over the swollen river.

Out to the farms, the children feel it:
running around clockwise,
jerked in bursts,        sparkled-running water.

The wind flurries groups of vines over branches,
tangled chalky lines
up the solid green of mottled trees.

Above, the sky molten and strained downward,
seems like a full tarp,        bowing.

Amy Lee is a young writer with a passion for exploring complex themes through her poetry and prose. Her works often focus on environmental issues and loss. Amy draws inspiration from her experiences growing up in several cities, where she has witnessed firsthand, the impact of climate change and urbanization on the natural world. Her writing has been recognized by publications such as Eunoia Review, Uppagus, and The Reflector.

Next in Wax Mag #2:
Today I stargazed and saw my daughter in a moon crater

by Daphne Harries

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