Su Hwang


Reconstruct the architecture of youth before

                                                Muscles petrify to granite, cartilage           

            Whittled clean; before clavicles divulge  

                                                                                                Signs of collapse. 

Nave spine, transom ribcage, apse hips: flesh

                                                            No longer recollects leisure after hoarding

            Pain between joints, even at the site

                                                Of pleasure, however once

                                                                                                Plentiful.  Ache

            Rolls off the tongue like a shamanic chant. 

                                                                                    Kettle spits fire. 

                                    We blow on barley tea, listening to the same


                                                            Abridged stories––such reveries          

                                                                                             We dare not speak of:

                        Our shaky, common ground.

AUTHOR'S NOTE:My first poetry collection Bodega explores issues of race, identity, class, and marginalization (even within marginalized communities) through the lens of a 1.5 generation child of Korean immigrants. The overarching themes that seem to keep cropping up in these poems are the remarkability of sacrifice of our elders and the sheer tragedy in our inability to communicate with them due to the confines of language or cultural-generational rifts or both. That’s been the most heartbreaking thing to negotiate with my own parents: the incalculable loss of all the silences, fading shards of memory, irreparable physical gaps, and the toll of manual labor on their aging bodies. Perhaps the lasting stain on this generation of immigrants will be the compromised relationships in the name of providing a better life for their children while they are left behind in a strange purgatory of silenced sufferings.

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