Patrick Hicks








          —on the night my adopted son was born in South Korea


Beyond the dark rolling Pacific,

across a rind of time zones,

over deserts and fields of corn seed,


in fact, on the other side of the world,


my wife sits up, in America. A strangeness

has butterflied into her nerve endings.


We are at the theatre, watching a play,

and her whisper is hot against my eardrum.


          “He was born today.”


My face becomes a question mark.


          “No, really. I can feel it.”


When we get home,

she marks the calendar with a dot.


It turns out she was right,

but we wouldn’t know this for months.


Somehow, beyond all reason,

beyond the arcing vastness of a planet,


my wife felt something—a flutter—

which cannot be explained or denied.


This dot hangs on our calendar,

it is a pinprick of something much larger,


the beginning, perhaps, of a universe






I think of you,



but mostly,

you are as noticeable as


a blink.


According to the Birth Report,

you don’t know about your son.


          (My son.)


I think of you

when I study the topography of his nose.


I see your ghost flickering

in his face.


Birth father,

I don’t know your name,

but maybe you’re in college now.


Maybe you’re in Seoul,

wolfing down ddukbokkie

before you run off


to a dance club,

your body flickering

beneath strobe lights—








much as you do,

in my unsaid thoughts.






Delicate are the tendons that glide beneath our skin.

Delicate are the neurons that spark memory.


Delicate is the hammer—and the drum—inside our ears.

Delicate is the heart that accordions a lifetime of blood.


Delicate are the scars that whisper our past.

Delicate is the moonlight, floating upon a lake.


Delicate are the seasons that age our bodies,

and the billion suns that shine above us at night.


Delicate is the birdsong of traffic,

and the watery gears of our bodies.


Delicate is the candle,

delicate the flinching flame.


Delicate is the fingertip,

waiting to turn a page.


Delicate is the book in your hands,

the dried ink on this page, the topography

between author and reader.


It is understanding that each second, each breath,

each ballooning of our lungs, is just a wisp of air,


as easily finished as a poem.

















Patrick Hicks is the author of several poetry collections, most recently, Finding the Gossamerand This London. He has won the Glimmer Train Fiction Award and been a recipient of a number of grants, including ones from the Bush Artist Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has been nominated seven times for the Pushcart Prize and his work with PBS’s Over South Dakota was nominated for an Emmy in 2012. His work has appeared in Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, The Missouri Review, Tar River Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and many others. A dual citizen of Ireland and the United States, he is now the Writer-in-Residence at Augustana College. When not writing, he enjoys watching thunderstorms roll across the prairie with his British wife and he is a sucker for playing in the backyard with his four-year-old son, who was adopted from South Korea. His next collection of poetry, Adoptable, is forthcoming with Salmon Poetry (Ireland). His first novel, The Commandant of Lubizec, which is about the Holocaust, will be published by Steerforth/Random Houses in 2014.


Publications and Prizes



A Harvest of Words: Contemporary South Dakota Poetry (Center for Western Studies, 2010), This London (Salmon Poetry (Ireland), 2010), Finding the Gossamer (Salmon Poetry, 2008), The Kiss That Saved My Life (Red Dragonfly Press, 2007), Draglines (Lone Willow Press, 2006), Traveling Through History (Moon Pie Press, 2005)



Cimarron ReviewCold Mountain ReviewDalhousie ReviewGlimmer Train,Louisville ReviewNational Catholic ReporterNatural BridgeNimrodPloughsharesPoet Lore,Poetry EastSouth Dakota ReviewSouthern Indiana ReviewSpeakeasyTar River Poetry ReviewThe Christian Science MonitorThe Normal School



Glimmer Train Fiction Award High Plains Literary Award


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