Esther Lin

The Apocalypse Tapestry
           Chateau d’Angers, 2022

Saint John stands serene
as plagues rise, stars fall,
through the corruption
of the wools & dyes he is
made of. Five years for artisans
to weave ninety panels, and of
all royal commissions, that this
should be the one to survive
the Revolution. I felt
affection for Saint John. He
was like the friends who
brought me to my first castle
and first large-scale tapestry
and let me gawk in amused
silence. Such love. And we did
love each other. The pandemic
was here and we lived.
There was the one who’d
carried the alligator while
Lucile held the rabbit and I,
the turtle. We once hovered
over the alligator while his
mother repainted its eyes—
were they even, did they see
clearly? In the castle bathroom
Lucile and I cried a little.
It was easier to allow ourselves
comfort from the grand
and ludicrous enterprise
called a tapestry, even on
the destruction of the earth.



A Book About Dragons
           for Laurence Yep

Because we loved God, I could not
tell my mother that the most wonderful

phrase I’d read was not from the Bible
but a book about dragons.

A heroine and an exile, my dragon
called her home the Green Darkness.

Like the dragon I longed for the Green Darkness.
Not for the green or the dark, but the conundrum

of its name: a spirit so rich it must occupy
two bodies. The word as body. Wasn’t this

another way of saying mother, child.
I experienced it in the deep, attending

nature of books. The book and me.
I felt it later too. With Jane as she walked

past Thornfield. And in Combray. By then
my mother was dead and still

I could not tell her about the wonderful
things I’d read.



Esther Lin was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and lived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant for 21 years. She is the author of Cold Thief Place, winner of the 2023 Alice James Award, and The Ghost Wife (PSA 2018). In 2020 she was a Writing Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, and from 2017 to 2019, a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. You may find her poems in 32 Poems, Hyperallergic, New England Review, Pleiades, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She co-organizes the Undocupoets, which raises consciousness about the structural barriers of undocumented poets.