Han / 한

When she was a girl
she dragged her doll
by the hair and scorched
her feet on a hot slide.

She crawled in the basement
with a cottonmouth snake.

Even her front tooth
dangled from its root.

When she was a girl
North Georgia and Kentucky
couldn’t tether,
she was flown
across an ocean
she’d always know
in the following years
by its face pressed
against the bosoms of clouds.

When she was a girl
with cicadas
in her ears, the mountains
were a skirt clutched
in her fingers,
and under her feet
was the stink of gummy
ginkgo fruit.

On nighttime walks, after
scraping scorched rice
from the bottom
of a stone bowl,
in a city she could never own
or fully know, the halogen lights
of the GS25 gave her face
a deathly glow.

She prayed to the patron saint
of ten won coins,

blessed herself with plastic dippers
full of cold mountain water.

Pink lotus lanterns lined the path back down
the mountain behind her home.

In every self portrait
her eyes listed up
like roof tiles,
with crayons she colored
her blue eyes black.

The words she needed,
she didn’t know,
couldn’t give back.

She yearned to let loose
from the mountain
a deep morning yahoe
release what must have been
by the han
she’d breathed in

when she was a girl.


Image: By Pdekyvere – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0