David Keplinger

The Sea Sponge

Whatever is melting north of here just dripped another ten thousand gallons into the sink of the world. I identify with the sea sponge: what will happen to the sea sponge, I fret. I worry all the time. That’s why I’m nothing like the sea sponge. Alive four thousand years, and so thin, and woven so loosely, it appears to be a single, translucent opera glove, stretched out from overuse, which no one can bear to discard.





On Trnky Street I’d practice a certain word, walking to my classes at the Gimple school, and all the way back to my state-owned flat, saying it over and over—the tongue on the roof of my mouth like a transplant. You wanted to hear me say it, and when I got it exactly right eventually, it was like kissing you, you said, my tongue touching your tongue in the language.




David Keplinger is author of five collections of poetry, most recently Another City (Milkweed, 2018), which was awarded the 2019 UNT Rilke Prize for a poet in mid-career. He also won the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Colorado Book Award, the Cavafy Prize from Poetry International, and two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (poetry and literary translation). With BOA and Milkweed and other presses, he has published four volumes of literary translation from Carsten Rene Nielsen (Danish) and Jan Wagner (German).