Adaptation by Tess Liem

.                                                                    Am I supposed to believe—

when I see this poster
advertising the adaptation of Anna Karenina
from the platform of the metro
every morning, every evening
with Anna’s ballerina body bent
like the stem of a leaf
falling or rising
a pose meant
to convey her existential tumult
while a small toy train circles her feet
her fate so diminished
that even if you haven’t indulged
in the seven hundred page tome
even if you never thought to do such a thing
or spent a winter considering your own personal adaptation
her ending is before you
every morning, every evening
on the platform of the metro
& you might think—

.                                                                   Anna was bigger than the train?


Copyright © Tess Liem. Originally published in Obits. (Coach House Books, 2018).

Tess Liem lives in Tio’tia:ke/Mooniyaang—unceded Haudenosaunee and Anishinabe territories (Montreal QC). Her writing appears in The Puritan, Plenitude, Cosmonauts Avenue, THIS and elsewhere. Her debut collection of poetry, Obits. (Coach House 2018), was shortlisted for a Lambda Literary award.

Subscribe to Poetry Pause or visit the Poetry Pause Archives.


See the League’s 2019 Book Awards Shortlists here.