Monuments for Men (Memory’s Vault), Fort Worden

Shin Yu Pai

for Courtney Hudak

I can’t deny that beauty is
here, when bullied by design

to turn my back to the bay
and enthrone myself beneath

the shelter, to sit opposite a single
pale stone, enshrined inside a slab

mausoleum—the permanence
of rock is as persistent as the force

of men, it’s evident in the words
etched onto stone steles, hostile

architectures crafted by those
who saw themselves like gods

who coerced the eyes upward
to poles planted at the site,

that old trope of the man, &
his lover the sea, patiently waiting

for his return, I think why
not turn the gaze back on her

right now—the sea—we have
already seen all there is to see

Shin Yu Pai is the author of several books of poetry, including Virga, ENSŌ, Sightings: Selected Works (2000-2005), Aux Arcs, Adamantine, and Equivalence. She served as the fourth poet laureate of the City of Redmond, Washington, from 2015 to 2017. She is a three-time fellow of MacDowell and has completed residencies at Taipei Artist Village, Centrum, and The Ragdale Foundation. She writes, hosts, and produces the podcast The Blue Suit for KUOW Public Radio.

Originally published in Moss: Volume Seven.

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