The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Night Swim by Joan Kwon Glass

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Jordi Alonso, is from Night Swim by Joan Kwon Glass, released by Diode Editions in 2022.

Chambered Nautilus

The shell…blends in with the darkness of the sea, and when seen from
below…blends in with the light coming from above.

               Wikipedia on the chambered nautilus

A woman sits up weary in her nightdress,
holds her knees, dying in bed,
a basket of thread unspooling beside her.
She turns toward the window and by the way light
floods the glass we assume she gazes out onto the sea.
At the foot of the bed the chambered nautilus waits.

The dying woman, Wyeth’s mother-in-law,
has remained with me through half my life:
two divorces, three children grown,
the carrying on after unbearable loss.
The old woman whose face I wouldn’t recognize
does not bear witness but she never leaves me.
The morning I found out that my sister was gone
the old woman watched the ocean chip away at the shore.

20 years ago, my sister stood beside me when I bought this print.
We were visiting the Wyeth homestead in Maine, promised
each other we would meet here again someday
when we were old and love had failed us.
Christine was her pick, a woman crawling and reaching
for home, her numb legs dragging behind her,
pointer finger raised and wavering like a broken compass.
I chose Chambered Nautilus. No longing for arrival,
just a turning away from the room where your life will end
and toward whatever light the world still holds.

Joan Kwon Glass‘ first full-length poetry collection, Night Swim, won the 2021 Diode Editions Book Contest. She is the author of the chapbooks How to Make Pancakes for a Dead Boy (Harbor Editions, 2022) and If Rust Can Grow on the Moon (Milk & Cake Press, 2022). In 2021 she was a runner-up for the Sundress Publications Chapbook Contest, a finalist for the Harbor Review Editor’s Prize, the Subnivean Award and the Lumiere Review Writing Contest. Joan is a graduate of Smith College and serves as Poet Laureate for the city of Milford, CT and as poetry co-editor for West Trestle Review. She has spent the past 20 years as an educator in the Connecticut public schools. Her poems have recently been published or are forthcoming in diodeThe RuptureNelleRattlePirene’s Fountain, SWWIM, Dialogist, South Florida Poetry JournalHoney LiteraryMom Egg, Rust + Moth, Lantern Review and many others. Joan has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

Jordi Alonso holds degrees in English literature from Kenyon College (AB ’14) Stony Brook University (MFA ’16) and the University of Missouri (PhD ’21). He is currently a Classical Studies MA student at Columbia University. Honeyvoiced, his first book, was published by XOXOX Press in 2014 and his chapbook, The Lovers’ Phrasebook, was published by Red Flag Poetry Press in 2017. His work appears in Kenyon Review Online, Banyan Review, Levure Littéraire, and other journals. Follow him on Twitter @nymphscholar or get to know his work at


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