The Gift Horse – David Allen Sullivan

                             —for Isabel Augustine-Adams

The Korean boys take turns
bringing her gifts she can’t accept,
she’s a light-haired meiguoren,

struggling with Chinese the same
as these foreigners whose parents
all work for Samsung.

When she goes to study
in an unused classroom
they knock on the door before

entering. She turns away wrapped
sweet plum candies, a jar
of kimchi, a Bible, a hairbrush.

I’m only thirteen she protests.
Eventually shows them her I.D.
Afterward, they’re nothing

but polite, but she misses
the ardor of their missionary
zeal, the way the leader knelt

when he presented
a rice cake
embossed with a single almond.

David SullivanDavid Allen Sullivan’s books include: Strong-Armed Angels, Every Seed of the Pomegranate, a book of co-translation with Abbas Kadhim from the Arabic of Iraqi Adnan Al-Sayegh, Bombs Have Not Breakfasted Yet, and Black Ice. Most recently, he won the Mary Ballard Chapbook poetry prize for Take Wing. He teaches at Cabrillo College, where he edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students, and lives in Santa Cruz with his family. His poetry website is:, a modern Chinese co-translation project is at:, and a call for poetry about the paintings of Bosch and Bruegel for an anthology he’s editing with his art historian mother is at: