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Ben Purkert reads Kien Lam's poem, “Silhouettes”.

Ben Purkert:

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Hi this is Ben Purkert and I'll be reading "Silhouettes" by Kien Lam. I think the thing I love the most about this poem is this idea that sort of comes at the end of the poem where feelings are these things that pass through us. Like, we are sort of these containers for feelings and we have them within ourselves for a few moments and then we pass them back out to the world. 


A crow perches inside me.

Actually, it is a whale. It is hard to tell
by touch alone. Nothing I own ever looks
me properly in the eye. Sometimes

a loud caw at dusk feels
like the largest mammal on Earth.

A deep breath out the blowhole

into my stomach. One second it swims
and the next it is a small extension
of a tree. This is a kind of beginning—

a finger puppet show. The light
dancing around my hands.

Me dancing alone on a stem.

A persimmon blooms.
A boy learns a song and plants it
in an orchard. Inside of me

the large creatures change their shapes
to fit. A blackbird. An organ.

Animals with no names. I send them off
into the world daily. Little sadness
takes flight. Love is a brave child.

These things take the shape
of their containers.

I don’t have to do anything
to hold them."