X as a Function of Distance from Ignatz

By Monica Youn Monica Youn
(she opens the door)
(he is twelve inches
away) her fingers

still splayed across the
battened-down brass latch
of his sternum (she

closes the door) (he
is eight feet away)
her palm skids down the

banister clings to
the fluted globe of
the finial (he

is twenty-eight feet
away) (she opens
the door) the black air

is fast flowing and
cold (she closes the
door) she clutches her

thin intimacy
tight under her chin
and trips down the steps

(he is forty feet
away) the stiff wind
palpably stripping

his scent from her hair
from the numb fingers
she raises to her

mouth a cab pulls up
(she opens the door)
she bends the body

hitherto upright
(she closes the door)
the cracked brown vinyl

(he is ninety feet
away) biting the
backs of her thighs red

blotches suffusing
her cheeks I’m sorry
please stop she says (he

is four hundred feet
away) please stop the
cab (she opens the

door) the cab stops she
pushes a twenty
through the slot (he is

seven hundred feet
away) (she closes
the door) the husk of

something dry and light
falls to the sidewalk
crumbles away (she

opens the door) (he
is two feet away)
(she closes the door)

Monica Youn, “X as a Function of Distance from Igntaz” from Ignatz. Copyright © 2010 by Monica Youn. Reprinted by permission of Four Way Books.

Source: Ignatz (Four Way Books, 2010)

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Poet Monica Youn

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Monica Youn is the author of Barter (Graywolf Press, 2003) and Ignatz (Four Way Books, 2010), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including the New Yorker, the Paris Review, and the New York Times Magazine, and she has been awarded fellowships from the Library of Congress and Stanford University, among other awards. A former lawyer, she now teaches . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries, Popular Culture, Cities & Urban Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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