Wednesday, February 22, 2012

dear m--

it is time to let this go.
slow and steady.

she was ten. she was ten. she was ten. i was eight.
i shudder at the sound of pants unzipping, instead i pull mine off from the shrinking of hips
metal button scraping soft stomach.

here is how i describe you.

the family i lived with --- no--- the people
they were not mine.
paper hands in an old square house. a yardstick.
both sides of a scream in the same room.

you taught me to stand still, to simon says
nothing. you'd say, you are nothing.

damage. i dare not dwell.
every night, i undo you
walk around my room
fingers pruned with
the percentage of you
that makes me up
a truth i can't finetooth comb away.

i tell the story so well.
white out from my lips that paints you clean
cold edges of someone i forget to tell.
i am careful with your picture.
in it, you are a woman with a husband and son.
in it, you are a victim, and i am a child with simple needs.

on your lap every morning,
on the floor every afternoon,
hands over my head
i held the hardest parts of me

the softest strips of body open
i let you straighten me out
knees and arms drawn in.

love, you always said
is not a feeling. it is a decision.

i can't feel anything. i decide to dress up like a woman
and then i undress, a stranger's hands around my wrists
and waist and neck.

but everything i feel
has been pressed in through my skin
and seeps away just as quickly.

you sliced me so thin
horizontal lines around my eyes and ears.
a field guide of scars around my shoulder blades.

at night
dogs and cats in wire pens roam around a painted gray floor
forget to eat, get lost on their way to the front door.
i carry them around with me, come home to them, like they are mine.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


it is early and she's up before noon for once. the second alarm gets her full attention.
open eyes, bending upwards at the waist and then the knees.
she has started sleeping on a blue trifold cushion, the length of her body.
the low parts of back ache again today, she fumbles for her glasses,
heavy in her hand, then on the low valley of her nose.
seated on the toilet, she contemplates sleeping on the bare floor,
like most koreans, or on the sofa bed like a normal person with furniture.
but the back she can ignore.
the pain is worth the sleep she's been soaking in.
she fights the daily desire to stay there, dipped
in the "vivid blue" nylon zip cover of sleep that draws around her like
this dark winter.

her sister has sent a message and they will look in on each other through computers
for awhile before she needs
to bundle up for the short crunching steps to the corner, to a taxi, to the fifth floor school hallway and u formations of desks.

she clicks the right burner on under the water, considers washing the teetering brown pool of dishes and water under the spigot.
decides against it. brushes her teeth for less than a minute, spitting out red streaks of bubbles.
the blood these days, it's always there. she pushes down the stress that always comes
with the burden of self care. she wets her hair with two handfuls of water, readies her body in an underwire bra,
thick tights and a new dress.

she laughs at herself in the mirror, vain.
a year ago in san francisco, she boarded a plane with two suitcases. one filled with drawings, colored pencils and books.
the other, zipped full of multi seasonal thrift store finds. she was dressed in "the uniform": a breastbone baring men's vneck, a lace rubber band excuse for a bra and
, a tattered black sweatshirt.

a runaway, a san franciscan, a taurus. she had been too careless to worry about something as trivial as fashion or femininity.
yet here she is, one year and two underwire bras later, dressed up like a korean female :
short hemline, collar bones buried.