An Excerpt from “Postcolonial Album: 1980”

Annie Kim

Sijo No. 1
at the edge   I sometimes catch   wisps of my   big white childhood

two white dogs   barking madly   two sisters   jumping taut rope

it’s as if   they were neatly glassed   all those years   or I’m glassed out

Sijo No. 2
the word for   container rhymes   with home it’s what   comes first to me

the word for   fish bone’s the same   as for thorn   as splinter

little thorn-   bone splinter me whole   again show   me you exist

. . .

raw fish bleeding through a pile of newspapers

a skinny road with no shoulders

plane trees, fresh tar and stale bus diesel, men
riding bicycles in white cotton masks, though not

necessarily in that order

stick of rice cake burnt on one side, the frayed gloves
handing it to me red, then I’m peeling back the foil

the ice beneath the snow is yellow
hard like an ancient scab

we sing carols on the dark drive home, we have

the only car in the neighborhood, a garden and a gate
that locks us in, there is no

natural order to recollecting this

see these sunlit windowpanes
I stare out this morning, how miraculously they fit

side by side

. . .

Here is the six-year-old pressing her ear
against the hallway door that’s always locked
here’s the mirror and the clock with two brass tongues
rocking back and forth see how daylight
floods the screen door always in her memory open it
to the porch down the steps into the garden

high with weary sunflowers nodding heads
leaves rust the shallow pond here the sun
beats fiercely and the children make up games like
jump down steps catch leaves with your stick in
the flat brown water that’s a drainage ditch
my sister says years later you used to play in it

. . .

In the book Tommy Goes to the Doctor
there’s a human half and a rabbit half.
Everything Tommy does the rabbit does,
but you flip backwards from the end to read it.
The rabbit sits nicely on the doctor’s table,
waiting for his perfectly orange carrot.
Our house in Seoul had two front doors:
one for the humans, one for the rabbits.
The rabbits had no inside bathroom, no
refrigerator stocked with ice cream.
When the humans wanted to play, well, they
walked outside and rapped on the little door— 
the door in the hallway was always locked,
just a knob and four neat cracks in the wall.
I would stand there sometimes, nibbling a cookie,
in my bare feet, listening—

. . .

Read the rest of this poem by downloading our iOS digital app available in the iTunes store. For Android users, click here to access our mobile-friendly site. Or, purchase a print copy of the Nov/Dec 2016 issue here. 

Back to top ↑

Sign up for Our Email Newsletter