Back to Issue Twenty-Eight.




Dear daughters, when the mind leaves
it leaves so swiftly. Today I woke having forgotten
which country now held me, or if those love
motels stringing neon cords outside my window
were those of Oakland or Seoul. I woke having
forgotten even your faces, but I remembered
my dreams of hunger. What if this is all I am left with:
memories of my young body rifling through refuse
at the US bases, the slow arc of a dust-bloodied moon
illuminating garbage: Animal bones I picked through
for their tears of toothed sinew, wads of gum
studded with gristle and American spit. We did our best
to rinse off the dirt, but that too is sustenance.
After all, I’ve seen the hungry drink soups of mud
or their own vomit and if pride serves no man,
then let us be animals. Animal, full and unmoored
from whatever shame names us human. We boiled
the trash in a big pot, watched the chicle bloom
into nothing and broth, the animal bone’s faint bouquet
of rot brought us kids to drooling. The stock boiled
itself white. We spiced it with crushed cigarette butts
and wild weeds, called it 꿀꿀이죽, or oink-oink gruel
after the swine we had become. To this day, nothing
has ever tasted as good. At home that evening,
my eldest sister’s human pride made her seize me by the hair,
throttle my face raspberry for the dishonor of eating American
garbage. You weren’t raised like this, you weren’t raised like this,
but in a year, my sister in all her beauty and pride
would be dead. It was like we already knew it back then,
my girl body half-transformed into a pig, screeching its pink
forfeit. My sister thrashing my wire-haired skin,
weeping for all the lives neither of us would live.

Jihyun Yun is a Korean-American poet from California. A Fulbright Fellow and Three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she received her BA in Psychology from UC Davis and her MFA from New York University. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Bat City Review, Narrative Magazine, 32 Poems, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she is working on her full-length collection, Some are Always Hungry.


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