Teow Lim Goh

Faraway Places

                                                                                 September 1880
                                                                                 Rock Springs, Wyoming

Go West, young man, they said
and off he went, dreaming

of mountains and rivers
of gold. Now he has nothing

to his name, no way out
of this town of coal. Whiskey

burns his throat, drowning
the ache of his abode.

Winds shake the windows
and keep him awake as he longs

for a woman’s warm breath
to lull him back to sleep.




                                                                                 September 1880
                                                                                 Rock Springs, Wyoming

All day she dusts and still she finds
black streaks when she sets down the laundry.
Her feet swell and her back hurts.
Six months along: the baby kicks again.

A stew is bubbling on the stove.
Potatoes, herbs, a little bit of meat.
She drops a plate and looks at the clock.
He should be home by now: an accident
at the mine or one more rowdy round
with the old boys at the bar?
The shards glint in the fading light.

She watches coal crackle on the stove
and dreams of this child she will soon hold,
an angel with Daddy’s green eyes
and her chestnut hair—must be a girl,
she knows, she knows, he will come home for her.

She waits to hear his ragged cough outside.



Teow Lim Goh is the author of two poetry collections, Islanders (2016) and Faraway Places (2021), and an essay collection Western Journeys (2022). Her essays, poetry, and criticism have been featured in The Georgia Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Los Angeles Review of Books, PBS NewsHour, and The New Yorker.