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by Sun Paik

Two months dead, my grandfather has made my mother an orphan.
They burned him: I build dreams where I carry his body in my mouth,
taking him to the salt beds where his ears still hold yesterday’s rain.
Like any mirror, I know better than to believe in myth.
Look. No river has you be the only witness of your drowning.
There is no luck, no god. A ghost comes and steals your bloated skin.
Is it true our faces bend into the shape of our mothers?
As a child, I had not yet understood our twin likeness.
Each winter, I molded dried persimmons into the shape of her hands.
Like an elegy, I expected you to be loud and alive.
Forget the dog-eared year. I dove into the wreck of memory,
a land of the dead, ready to love all the things that killed us.
One summer, my grandfather released all his birds from their cages.
Already prepared for flight, he named each one before their leaving.
Single syllables. Light enough to carry to volcanic shore.


Though the sijo poetic form has existed for centuries, this project was inspired by the works of EJ Koh and Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello

Sun Paik is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet. She currently resides in San Francisco.

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