Bridget Huh | Touching the Verb, a winner in the Vallum 2023 Poetry Award

Touching the Verb

Ask me what I’m holding
들다 is the verb I might use

But my mother says
들다 she means lift

As in
The trees lift their great arms
to pull the wind in closer

A group of trees gathers
every apple-shaped prayer we toss up

The tree is about my height
That is
the height I would be
if I were a tree
if I were a tree rooted to live

My mother held me
because she knew the ground
and I had to be kept at a distance

When I hold a purse
a poem or a person
I shake out the inside

This weather holds me
for a moment then it passes

The tree hat dips in the wind pours
its head into mine

Chestnut drops from above
some thoughts are not mine to think

I think the name for a group of trees
is something I could never know

들다 sometimes lets you go
to enter to penetrate
to permeate to saturate

This is how the leaves turn
단풍이 들다 curiously
the leaves are the subject

The leaves look at me
Blood brightens their faces

What they hold is their own
emptiness which burning might fill
The leaves hold

At moon’s urging
night’s blade draws each tree
out of its skin

The leaves hold that fury until
they have no need
for hands anymore until wind
steals their hands away

Trees what are you
trying to tell me how
are you trying to hold me

The tree holds once
Then the season of surrenderz


Bridget Huh is a queer Korean poet completing her undergraduate studies at Concordia University. Her poetry and criticism have appeared in or are forthcoming in Arc Poetry Magazine, PRISM International, The Ex-Puritan and Canthius.