Dear Empire [this is your atoll]
This is your atoll. Reef crumbles to the touch. The artist paces along the beaches here, and you've loved her for awhile—delicate and glittering. She walks back and forth talking to herself and finds, trapped in a tide pool, a small jellyfish.
Her body softens as she scoops the animal into a little bowl with salt water. Portions of the animal's body are torn. Portions of it blow and settle. Blow and settle. Its transparent body glows with sunlight.
A light foam dissolves in small puckers and as the waters pass over the sand, the artist's footprints sink beneath its concavity. "Look," she says. "The tide has risen."
Oliver de la Paz is the author of three books of poetry: Names Above Houses, a winner of the 2000 Crab Orchard Award Series for Poetry, Furious Lullaby, and Requiem for the Orchard, winner of the 2010 U. of Akron Prize for Poetry. He is the co-editor of A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry and a founding member of Kundiman.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to the creation, cultivation, and promotion of Asian American poetry. He is the recipient of grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and Artists' Trust, and he teaches creative writing at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.