Cristiana Baik, Pt. 1: Fifty-eight orchid species are native to the Lake Superior basin, their nomenclature of feminine seduction:

For each day of National Poetry Month one of our fellows will explore the breadth of poetry in three ways: through a question from another fellow, through a poem and through a writing prompt, #writetoday.


Soham Patel asks, Why the long face? Why round belly laughs?

Cristiana Baik answers, Do I have a long face [laughing]?Two years ago, my partner and I drove a U-Haul from New York to Minnesota, which kicked off a long period of disruptions. I’ve moved more than anyone else I know, having never lived in a place for more than three years since going to college. In Chicago (where I went to school) I began to write poetry, which became intricately tied with experiences of displacement and being othered. Water is commonly a theme in my work, because bodies of water have always told me where I am. It’s been a universal marker, no matter where I’ve lived (Los Angeles: the Pacific; Chicago: Lake Michigan; Tuscaloosa: Black Warrior River; Duluth, MN: Lake Superior). This is a long-winded way of saying I’m sure the long face has something to do with constant destabilizations, which have also created fertile grounding for critical thinking and poems.

Round belly laughs: it’s about keeping it real.


Essentially Description

                          For Ian

We cross Blatnik Bridge
the view
of the bay opening
the lake
a porous border
where every ear finds a buoy
           a waveform to lean in towards

We knew
there was no looking back
just around

       Four-day drive, Woodside to Duluth
       Fifth day, the U-Haul crosses the bridge

It was autumnal, the atmosphere carnelian
washing the evergreens, steeples,
and industry
We walk to Sir Benedict’s Tavern
and drink in silence, realizing
this was home

                     the trope of a swinging door 


I recall writing poems
all essentially descriptions
of light splitting
the lake’s surface
spectral, an emerald
shield exposed
the lake telling me
in ripples
               the present rippling time
its so forths, so ons 


It’s only upon leaving that I learn the facts:

Lake Superior’s 3,000,000,000,000,000 gallons could flood continents

Over 300 streams and rivers empty into Lake Superior

Fifty-eight orchid species are native to the Lake Superior basin, their nomenclature of feminine seduction:

          Stemless lady-slipper
          Slender ladies tresses
          Purple tresses
          Heart-leaf twayblade
          Nodding ladies

These facts tracking my Midwest 


Then in a dream, the flood begins

The scene is a painting, a placement, a viewpoint:
                the edge of evergreens, birch, pine
                the edge cerulean, indigo, sometimes sleet-grey, sometimes all-white

There is sound, water’s refining
of limestone, sandstone, Thompsonite, agates

I wake to an inland sea
water the essential description
from Point Barrow to Tierra del Fuego



Cristiana Baik is a poet who resides in New York City. She works at ART21 and is the Managing Editor of Essay Press and The Conversan