November Poetry: "Blackout" by Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut

Curated as part of the Adoptee Poetry Folio by Guest Editor Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello
November 9, 2017

This November, to recognize and honor National Adoption Awareness Month, I've invited adoptee poet Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello to curate a folio of poems by 10 Asian American adoptees. This page features Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut’s “Blackout.” I invite you to take a moment to read her moving introduction to the folio here, as well as the other nine poems in this collection.

— Eugenia Leigh, Poetry Editor


Every so often, it happens:
          the trapdoor swings open,
and down I’m falling, black hair
​          scraping the insides of a tunnel,
my breastbone split, the tongue
​          inside my head finally loose.
Falling through a dream
​          in an absence of gravity and light,
I am traveling downward, to where
​          I catch the tail end of a box-
car pulling away from the metro
​          where a pale woman who might be
my long-ago mother is mouthing
​          something incomprehensible.
Already the wind is taking her
​          away in a false swirl of smoke
and then I catch her again, mirrored
​          in a grocery aisle in K-town, rooting
through a crate of bruised melons,
​          their pickle-wrinkly skin like her
hands as she frowns, eyes sliding
​          over me to see the next bin—

a blackout season is like a spinning
​          away without a map or exit,
or like falling from a barstool like a
​          total lush, but really, I’m reminding
myself that this is how I live:
​          testing the frailty of bones and tissue,
the way things swell up and bruise
​          to remind us that we are more
than only this, that we fall
​          open through loss, again and again
to avoid disappearing.


This piece was published as part of the November Adoptee Literature Folio. To see other works from the folio, please visit the table of contents here.


Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut

Nicky Sa-eun Schildkraut is the author of Magnetic Refrain (2013) and is currently working on a second book of poetry and a novel. She has a PhD in Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Southern California, and teaches in Los Angeles.