Joan Kwon Glass


My ten-year-old son plays a video of two foxes
frolicking at night. He’s entranced by their downy coats,
their ears, too large for their heads, tails like clouds
of woodsmoke as they chase one another
then collapse together, into a pulsing nest of fur.
I don’t remember ever playing like that as a child,
ever allowing myself to rest in the breath of another.

Later, a coyote slinks in front of my car, crossing
from someone’s lawn into the woods. Her lean body
two inches from me, I am struck by how like a fox
she appears–a fox’s haggard, distant relative, softness
drained from her features like blood from a human face.
Her eyes glow like flickering basement light bulbs,
like a border you wither across when you are weary but hungry.
We stare at each other in recognition before she turns

and trots away to swallow mice whole, split open the throat
of a cottontail, consume weaker, sweeter animals. I want
to follow her, christen the morning with whatever prey
yields. I want to tear open the seams of this world with my teeth.

That evening, I stop by my elderly mother’s house.
She peeks around the corner, ears alert and red,
face softened by shower steam, and smiles modestly,
embarrassed, clasping a fluffy pink towel around her slight
chest, her square hips, the body I’d spent my life feeling
alien beside. At 81, she is more childlike than I
have ever felt, reminds me of a prepubescent girl
who has decided she is too old for her mother to see
her naked. I struggle to look at the woman in front of me
who emptied me into the world, know I should smile, try
to see more of myself in her. I avoid the fact that my
own daughter, 16 this past June, looks through me when I
walk into the room, grimaces when anyone says we look alike.

If foxes and coyotes share a faraway ancestry,
I wonder if in their history they rubbed noses, sunk
their warm bodies against the frozen Earth
and dreamed of tangled nests. I like to think they recognized
each other, moved closer toward the other’s shadow
and chose not to look away.

Joan Kwon Glass is the author of NIGHT SWIM (Diode Editions, 2022) & three chapbooks including IF RUST CAN GROW ON THE MOON (Milk & Cake Press, 2022). She serves as poet laureate for Milford, CT, Editor-in-Chief for Harbor Review & a Brooklyn Poets mentor. Joan’s poems appear in or are forthcoming in publications such as Tahoma Literary Review, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, The Margins (Asian American Writer’s Workshop), Hayden’s Ferry Review, RHINO, Dialogist & she teaches on the faculty of Hudson Valley Writers Center, Brooklyn Poets, Pioneer Valley Writers Center & elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Sundress Best of the Net and she has been finalist for the Lumiere Review Award and Subnivean Award. She lives in Connecticut with her family.