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.