When I imagine my mother’s body, spectral
questions float: how the cage
of bone protects the heart, how she sounded
near death once or if bird cried
a song near the river. I imagine it like gel
in a body of water, a jellyfish in the sea,
a gasping squid.
If I could touch the body,
I would go for the neck
where air meets air, despair swapped for light
flashes, cusps of cut lavender,
cups of the silkworms you may have loved,
the new breathing.
This is how I imagine
your body: brown and surfacing, a changing shape
of grace and light to mirror
the foreboding chant of my own death,
or the true loss of a child in Korea
who goes West to become a child in America,
full of spectral images distracting him from
all the Korean trees, the clashing bodies,
all the animals and angels calling out his name.
This poem first appeared in Issue 4 (Aug. 2008) of Cha