Kenton K. Yee


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                                 after Birches by Robert Frost

Whenever I see sunlight freckling off 
the Pacific, I look for waterboys breaching 
the waves. You may have seen them, 
skinny, pale, and shy, off the coast 
on sunny afternoons. Whether breaching 
for curiosity or to pass the time,  
lacking wings, they immediately plunge 
upon breaching like orcas do.

The persistent ones breach again and 
again only to plunge back every time. 
You’d think waterboys would find 
our troposphere too desolate and dull
to be worth the effort even when the coast
is clear of predator hawks and trawler nets. 
But to a waterboy the oceans a high school 
of horribles: sharks bullying stingrays, 

octopi sucking out crabs from behind, 
whales gobbling up everything in sight.
Watch a waterboy breach and you’ll see him 
kick his legs in sync as if one mermaid tail, 
bend at the waist and plunge headfirst back 
into the waves as if the rest of the sky he
just glimpsed above would be found below.
I believe that only special waterboys 
ever come to admit the truth: plunging 
after breaching will never get you 
to the sky—the only way to the sky 
is continuing to rise upon breaching. 

But no waterboy is born able to achieve 
the velocity needed to continue rising 
above the waves. One waterboy, too shy to 
chase seals, whose main joys consisted 
of brief breaches while swimming around 
alone at night, streamlined himself  

till not an earlobe dragged, not a hair 
resisted speed. He gave up all else to train 
until one night he breached escape velocity 
and jettisoned headlong into the air. 
Upon clearing clouds, he continued to rise,  
straight as a flamingo, into the vacuum, 
where he settled into orbit with space debris.

Now and again, I contemplate returning to 
the Pacific, if only for the joy of breaching
again. But my future’s in breaching the waves
of the sky. I’d like to escape Earth’s gravity, 
breach the waves of dotted lights. A waterboy 
could do worse than spend his time breaching.

Kenton K. Yee

is a

Guest Contributor for Panorama.

Recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Kenton K. Yee’s recent poems appear (or will soon) in Plume Poetry, Threepenny Review, Constellations, TAB Journal, I-70 Review, Hawaii Pacific Review,, Sugar House Review, McNeese Review, Asimov's Science Fiction, and Rattle, among others. Kenton holds a PhD from UCLA and law and business degrees from Stanford. He taught at Columbia University and writes from Northern California.


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