Lucid Prayers

For mothers
The ambiguity in pure Korean homonyms can only be fully eliminated through context. One such example is 사과 (pronounced sa-gua), which means either ​apple​ or ​apologize ​depending on how it is used​.

Twilight, and you open your mouth
around foreign lullabies, syllables stretched thin

to last like the dark before your ten-hour shift
or the shuddering edges of your new house,

your American dream, a mirage
flooding off heat-sick blacktop, trembling

with the slim pickings of last New Year
where you sliced apples for the little cousins

while your auntie pressed moons
and cloud-coloured peaches into your hands

saying, ​don’t go, that country will bleed
you collateral-dry,​ and you thought only of

the starving ginkgo seeds your father
would tourniquet with his teeth,

mouth always wanting, fists already sinewed
down to bone, two odes to survival,

and as the fruit escaped
down gullets like copper coins into sleeves,

your baby daughter was crying
in the next room, the kitchen knives

singing hymnal hallelujah,
radio crackling ​citizenship​ like a televangelist

calling for salvation, and I think I understand,
maybe you just wanted a language

where the apples you pared down
were more than apologies in threadbare peels.

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.