Animals: Three poems by Eunice Lee

The Ethnographer and the Sea Slug

“You never introduce yourself as a gastropod mollusk
or a nudibranch. It’s fourteen Fahrenheit here in Gangneung
but your beach, which knows neither Gangneung nor Fahrenheit,

is the universe, to you its entirety, never a mere beach.
There exists only one kind of slug. No such thing as cinder.
Rain, however sudden, hardly causes a stir; water isn’t felt.

No warfare, just this bursting magenta of your skin.
Perhaps your simple means to survival is your inability
to see yourself—a weapon your beholders lack.

There is an inside joke among you (about gills) and
it gets better each day it’s kept a secret from us,
doesn’t it?” he asks, getting everything wrong.

A Message from the Sea Church
After George Herbert’s “Superliminare”

Welcome, jellies, colors of the sea;
Firefish; guppies; undulating kelp;
Krill with extra feet; split barnacles;
Naked hermit crabs; and sand, sand.


Fishing nets and birds of prey may join
Our Sunday service only if prepared
To disavow their faith in speed and flight;
To let air fade; to dive in, never out.

Sijo for Seoul

Unending harmonica, reptilian motorcycle,
Rambunctious pomegranate, acrobatic February, 
Fluvial multiplication, impossible millipede.

About Eunice Lee

Author photo of Eunice Lee holding a Starbucks cold cup while looking out some huge angled windows.

Eunice Lee is a poet and translator whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Margins (Asian American Writers’ Workshop), Columbia Journal, The Shoutflower, The Shore, Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature & Culture, and elsewhere. She is pursuing a PhD in English at Harvard University, and graduated from Princeton University, where she won the 2018 Academy of American Poets College Prize.