Poetry: Selected Works

Selected Works


I am speckled and dusty
With black, brown, and grey.
Tiny pieces with stories
Washed together.
They fall through my fingers.
They can’t be caught.
Only seen,
Only felt.
They are dead.
But my heels dig in
Searching for the chill.
A sign that my skin lingers in the depths for
A reminder of water.
There is an edge
Where the water has hugged
And pulled back.
There is a moment
Where the two become inseparable.


It is steel blue
Like thoughtful eyes.
Alive and rhythmic.
It is predictable, comforting,
Endless: worthy of praise.
Forward and back.
Contract and relax.
It passes through my fingers
Not wanting to be taken or damaged,
Coming together again when I lift the tips away.

A wave crashes on my chest
But my feet are deep in the sand.
I stay still.
Like a reed: waving but firm.

There is sand in the water.
But they don’t know each other.
The water lifts it
To float and dance.
My eyes catch specks of gold.
There is sand in the water,
Though, I can’t feel it.
I am too refreshed.
Too wet.

When the water dries
My kneecaps are freckled.

Old Friends

I am playing with the sand
Letting it fall through my fingers.
I press into the soft surface
And observe my markings.
I see the water a few steps away
Cup my hands to draw the water into the sand.
I pour and swirl
I want them to mix into a state
Push them to become one.
The bone-dry sand becomes sticky and heavy.

Then the waves tap my toes
And take my eyes to the ocean.
With such narrow focus
It had been easy to forget
That the water and sand have always know each other.


Calendars are unnecessary.
My memory is not outsourced to paper.
You measure my time
Your height,
Your weight,
Your teeth,
Your hair.
I wonder what month it was when we took that trip.
I picture it:
Are you there?
When was it?
You were sitting up on your own,
But still nursing.
I remember:

There is only life before you
Or after you.
No other time exists
For me.

You stretch time.
Like watching you crawl toward a ladybug
Slowly bring your soft finger toward it
Then pull back.
It flies away.
Wonderfully slowly
With awe and joy.
Then all too quickly
It passes.


The depths are in your marrow.
Fears and loves I had not met
are in your eyes.
You match my hair,
Your eyes are my family
Taking turns:
Stone grey,
Deep blue,
Healing hazel.
You are bone of my bone
And flesh of my flesh
You are my Genesis.

One Year

I hold a year in my hands
It sits on my hips,
Wrapped around my waist
With thick eyelashes
and laughter that wrinkles noses.

I hold my motherhood
Like a wild bouquet.
A collection of
Memories I have plucked and gathered
To create a set.

I hold a year.
Time captured in a growing form.
It has come to life
With puncturing pain
Physical distress and emotional tugging.
Bliss beyond
Unfading love and tenderness.

I hold a year.
She puts her head on my chest.

Next year I will hold two
And she will run down the sand.


I make tea
Soft beige
With a label tail off the edge
My knees are by my chest
My notebook in hand
And you breathe when you see the moon.
A deep breath,
Like your lungs are thinking
About where to start
You hand me your wisdom
I keep it in my notebook
My own words reaching around yours
Ushering them to the page
Locking them down in ink.
They are the future
Propel me there with ease and clarity.
Words tie us together,
Bind us,
My words present your presence to the world
When yours are no longer available.

Steady Pace

You are steady
One foot follows the other.
They have memorized this path
Navigating the dips and rocks.
Every stone stays:
You are careful to keep it in place.
Nothing obstructs your gait.

Morning dew decorates the webs
That link the wild grass together.
Streamers placed along the edges
Nature’s gentle reminder that nothing is routine
Or ordinary.
Instead, it must be celebrated.
We are ushered to notice
In the morning light.

It paints the hills in progression
As we pass their first beauty
they are orange with pink hats.
When we finish they have absorbed the light,
And become brilliant green.

Our ankles pass by a hive waking up
One buzzes by.

The start is the finish
From the other side.


Your skin is warm and soft
Tickling your ribs will make you laugh
You will smile when you see me
You will chase this when it rolls
These pieces make you

Where Am I

I use you as a bookmark
Thank you for helping me keep my place.
You are always easy to find.
You are gentle when you tell me
Right here.


I am swollen with you
Gentle flutters and kicks
In your perfect cocoon.
You love the melodies that surround me,
You sway to the notes
Making me rock with you.
The cup is passed,
The bread comes next,
On a silver platter.
My thumbprint stays on the edge.
I am your vessel.
As I consume mercy,
It is brought to you as well.
A humble transfer of mercy and grace.
As they touch my tongue,
They are passed to your soul.
You are taken to the table
Before you can walk.
Grace in abundance
Before your first breathe.


There is freedom in two words.
Simple, powerful, kind words.
A phrase that loosens your white fingers
And gives your strained knuckles a break.
Liberty in an embrace
Of a simple mantra.
A hug that leaves your arms open
Instead of wrapped around your chest.
You are no longer in need of protection,
You are in desperate need of joy.

So, my dear,
Please just

Let go.


You are a daughter, wife, and mother
Wrapped in one being.
You are several feet of fight and passion
For the people who give you those titles.
You desire to live all those five syllables encompass.

It is a reception of love and protection.
It is toes dancing for someone’s joy in you.
It is learning and soaking.
It is swelling with newness and curiosity.

It is extension and encouragement.
It is absorbing another’s pain and holding his hand when he says, “I can’t.”
It is learning the complexities of humanity and finding out that love
Is endlessly creative.

It is sacrifice
Over and over again.
It is allowing your heart to have legs and arms
And walk a few feet away from your chest.
It is learning that you are inadequate
With an endless strength underneath.
It is reaching down into your depths everyday
To find more.
Offer it with outstretched fingers for another to inherit.
It is squeezing out everything you absorbed in your years under a mother
Gifting it to the next young woman.

Every curve, from the arch of your brows to the bridge in your feet,
Show your bend and dance between each of these roles.
You are beautiful.
You are.


Your movement is music
Song and rhythm.
You soul longs to sing.

Your gratitude is evident
When you learn
The world has a language
you already speak.


Then suddenly I am struck with a new truth.
It is a declaration that is read aloud with peace:

Rest in the midst of distance.
Patience bridges the expanse.
You will no longer struggle in the hands of your circumstances.
You are not bound by goodbyes.

This is my new disposition.

A Mother’s Love

My love for you has expanded
Like water it fills the vessel it is in,
And I have learned to give you more of my heart.
I have opened parts of it to you,
Moved passions and persons out of the way
So that you could fill in that space.
You fill it more wonderfully than its previous occupant.
May my love grow evermore.
May today be the day I love you the least.

A Child’s Joy

We sat together,
Knee to knee,
Crowned in light blue tulips
With joy at the tip of your tongue.
It simply took the touch of my finger on your skin
To let it comes bursting forth,
With freedom and buoyancy,
Followed by a long and generous laugh.
It is our very closeness that elates you
It will be forever cherished.

Repeated Truths

I have told myself
You are just a __.
This is a deep and wounding lie.

You are not just

You are flesh and bone.
You are thought and feeling.
You are breath and speech.
You are body and spirit.
You are very good.
You are with purpose.
You are everything.

And so,
You are able.


You are there
Every time I smell the breeze on
The leaves of a eucalyptus tree,
Or in the bittersweet peel of
A freshly juiced orange,
Or in the velvet fur on the ears
Of your favorite dog,
Or in the smoke of the fire
Cracking in the living room,
Or in the pages of the last chapter
Of a good book,
Or in the river water
That chills my toes and hosts your rainbow trout,
Or in the dew on the trail
During a pink sunrise.

You constantly arrive
Through a sense that is
Sensible enough to keep
Your memory so wonderfully alive
In a bouquet.
You have left blossoms for me to pick
In all your favorite places.

Copyright © 2020 Colleen Dong

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the author, addressed “Attention: Permissions Request,” at info@colleendong.com.

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