Yellow Filter/ Mother lies/ when ready to sky


yellow filter

where can i pull
a kind of madness from—

from perilla leaves?
from cobwebs?

from open doors?
i sit in the kitchen, listen

to mother as she halves
an onion like the sun

and watch its yolk
spill: madness is yellow.

the moon, too. sometimes,
my brother and i stand

in the gaze of the moon
and catch the glint of yellow

on our lips as they pucker
into sore o’s. the sky echoes

our figures, swollen fish—
lilting. but by morning,

we are merely smoke
buried in the lining

of the sky. from up there,
i pull perilla leaves off

their jeweled stems, knot them
into syllables—i am home—that

mothers will never be able to swallow.
they wander until the sky scabs

over and the moon drips
new words across our skin

Mother lies

There is nothing to see,
but as she tends
the town, I find
this is what ignorance
tastes like—
satin and discarded gum.
When she says,
we’re moving, I decide
I’ll hang an elegy
in my new bedroom
for every i-don’t-know
she spells out—
because each syllable
is another piece of this town
chipping away. Farewell
to yogurt cups
and calloused faces, sticky
streets we wander down.
Mother smooths the radio dial
as we drive, the cool
of piano trickling in, numbing
the ride. Her words rub
against the stereo,
one voice under another:
there, there. In the rearview,
as the radio wanes
and we unhear the town,
I watch the streetlights
loosen one-by-one
their footholds in the soil.

when ready to sky

Mother, the jjigae pops
like ghosts broken

in a notebook you handed
to me. I hid all those––
ghosts, notebooks, heritage—
in my drawer, let them

wrinkle where you could
not find them.

When I was younger,
I dreamt of holding
the universe in my hand.
Do you know if we can shrink

the earth? I asked.
I will, and I’ll pocket you
for when you pass (away).

‘Away’ is where
you long to go,
but Mother, you are tied

to this uncultivated land.
This land where truths unravel
and where dreams bleed in blues.

Esther Kim is a Korean-American writer from Potomac, MD. Her writing has been recognized by the Library of Congress, the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, The New York Times, the Poetry Society of the UK, and more. A high school junior, she dabbles in songwriting and can often be found in coffeeshops or on long walks.