This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Elizabeth Vignali, is from Connotary by Ae Lee Hee, released by Bull City Press in 2021.
Korea :: Things to Review Before Landing
My origin story:
My mother found me as a chestnut dangling from a tree.
When I fell onto her lap, she was eating
a copper pear with one hand, paging through
a book with the other. She carried out the burr
in the hollow of her arms; the spiny cupule made her bleed,
but she didn’t let go until I broke out from the shell.
Later, I sprouted needles anew, afraid
I was being nibbled away by the world.
My grandfather’s name:
I thought my grandfather’s name was Hal-abeoji,
only to find out it was the Korean word for grandfather.
He was the one who taught me and my sister to sail
a paper kite over a frozen river, to allow my index to flirt
with its mercurial tail.
When I was given a norigae to hang
under my first hanbok jacket, I foresaw
a pendulous love in my life. I alternated
between laughing and sobbing. Short horns
appeared on my back. From then on, a childlike
misfortune took the shape of a blank page
and muffled my steps in every new country I called
home. I didn’t want her at first, but eventually grew
fond of her, held her hand when she cried at night.
The one I took to school when I lived in Jang-yu
for that one year. I studied the occasional
bush of forsythias on the side
prodding yellow against an absolute autumn sky.
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