@ Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park


you tell me
that an iceberg
700 floors above
our heads carved
the valley
some thousands
of feet below
and if this is
the natural world
why do we say
the view
reminds us
of postcards?
Everything
the sign says
used to be
like this—
to which you say,
that is so,
so STUPID—
and in our
smallness
the untouched
leaves me
thinking of
nature’s slow pull
that glacial
blade gliding
through granite
as if it were nothing
more than warm
butter, and
the science
experiment
in fifth grade
Mandy Johnston
brushing back
a patch of
blonde hair
from her face,
blonde because
one evening
while bleaching
her stepfather’s
shirts, she’d made
the same gesture
to brush the
then-brown
bangs behind
a perfect
pierced ear
and how fucking
cool to be
Mandy Johnston
who could turn
laundry into
another reason
for envy, for
we did envy
her, all eighteen
of us, and when
she crouched low
we gathered
around as she
spilled ice over
loose sand
and how quick
the pouring
how unsatisfactory
the dirt
as it slid away
to reveal
the saran-wrapped
cardboard hidden
beneath as if
a thousand years
were nothing
more than
a cold stream
caught on the lip
of a cereal box
and later
I tried to make sense
of my own
disappointment
which has
only grown
over the years
and is growing still
for you see
Mandy Johnston
didn’t make it
to our Jesus year
and I wish I
could explain
what it was
to one day be
in the back-
seat of my
mother’s SUV
to have her ask
in the same
way she might
ask if I’d seen
the latest
episode of
a television
show I’d
never heard of,
Did you
hear about
Mandy Johnston?
And so now
we are here
thinking of
mountains
and ice cubes
and tired rocks
splitting into
two and
I wish we weren’t
so familiar
with the immaterial
wish we could
be like that
man with
the camera
who is alone.
He scans
the tourists
as if seeking
a new friend
and, seeing
only us, asks
if we can take
his picture.


Samantha Tetangco is a Filipino-American writer and teacher.  A multi-genre writer, her short stories, creative nonfiction, and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in dozens of literary magazines including The Sun, Zone 3, Gargoyle, Phoebe, Gertrude and others. She has an MFA from the University of New Mexico and is the Associate Director of Writing at the University of California Merced.  In her dailiness, Tetangco struggles with what it means to be a queer person of color who doesn’t often write about being a queer person of color.  More often, her work revolves around the multidue of places she's once lived and (often) still calls home, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and California's Central Valley where she currently lives with her wife and their two dogs.  For more on Sam, visit https://samanthatetangco.ink.