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.

I Ask the Pearl Diver to Bring you Back from the Dead

The 해녀 waddles toward the Jeju coast in her flippers
and wetsuit armor, adjusts her diving mask,
flashes me the peace sign and takes the plunge.

In the meantime, the other divers start a fire on the beach.
They squat and warm their hands as I pace and try to catch
a glimpse of you breaking the water’s surface.

One of them calls me over to share her abalone.
Another tries to distract me with the baby octopus that squirms
in her hand, writhes as though about to transform.

Soon the 해녀 calls my name, waves in victory,
and there you are! Not the sad, quiet child I remember,
but muscular and lean, with darker hair: a man of 25

with a brave face and playful eyes. You swim toward me,
race the 해녀, and she gives you a run for your money.
You look up at me like a field of canola opening in the sun.

When you pull yourself up onto the rocks, I embrace
your glossy body, and weep the way I did when you were born.
The stilled volcano at Hallasan rumbles.

I whisper How long do we have? to no one in particular.
The other 해녀 applaud and chant your name,
mostly for our benefit. They see this all the time:

the creatures that grief pulls from deep, airless places,
offering bright, wild treasures, even a version of the dead
we are desperate to meet.

Ribbons of seaweed blossom at our feet and nearby
mollusks spin sand into pearls.
Every darkness we bear hides such small mercies.

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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