Poetry / September 2012 (Issue 18)

Three Poems

by Joanne Lee

I was hungry.
My mother prepared
a table:
pickled cabbage,
thick-sliced radishes,
tofu stew.
She forgot
to serve
the semen of the strong
and tender,
so I took videos
of my un-wet lips,
and posted them
on YouTube.

The White Line

I look like my mother, now.  
She was always so frail, even when I was small, I surely could have carried her on my back the way my grandmother carried me on her back.  My mother had crooked legs. And I have crooked legs.  I was told to walk along on an imaginary line, and I believed—I believed it was a line my mother drew for me with a piece of white chalk, while I slept. She could not iron out my bones, she could not uncurl the fists I clenched while I dreamt of her, on lonely lightless nights, while she carved omens into the pavement outside our home.  
My mother ate persimmons, her small tongue was quick and I could hear the “click click clicK” of her jaw as she plumbed the orange blossoms, because she stayed up all night washing the chalk from her sparrowed hands.

I will take
your words, today,
like Seoul Hahl-muh-nee would take
all the hato cards. She would eat

them at night, with cured
cod and acorn mousse, swept
into her belly until
she was filled. 
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