Duplex Found Grafted onto Rootstock

After Dorothy Chan

I dream I am cutting my hair
in a stranger’s bathroom,

under the fluorescent glare of a strange bathroom
where my mother puts her hands

on my head and tells me to listen. Her hands,
my hair, all the same when reflected

in a mirror. ​Good girl, ​her reflection
says. If we are telling a story about heritage,

then hair is inheritance
and birthright both, braided into family trees

and daughters, every unwanted woman on a treetop
straining for the light,

motherwound already alight
and spilling blood-dark from my head bent in mourning.

Define ​mourner.​ Define ​mourned.
To break a strand at the root

or midway-up, to break a lineage like the root
of a tree gutted by lightning

is the greatest grief of all. I light
whole matchboxes in prayer.

I blacken paper coins into prayers.
Time takes people and turns

them into ghosts, or branches made of choice. Turn
left. Go home. What if I never again see myself

as I am now? My mother
wears white in anticipation

of her daughter lying in a casket, in anticipation
of a brackish mouth and a face

framed like a boy’s face.
In the dream, I am cutting my hair.

About the Author
Eunice Kim is a Korean-American writer living in Seoul. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Vagabond City Lit, Sonora Review, Barren Magazine, Young Poets Network and more.