the lady has the rugged streets of my mother’s
hometown and my hometown carved
in her skin. arteries drawn across generations
and people spilling like seas. imprint
the curve of my shoulder to theirs. mouths match
rhythms of inheritance. glow like
manmade moonlight. thick oil slick against
the ridges of my patchwork tongue.
we eat bingsu and i taste shavings of the city
and sand slipping through my shoelaces.
we bury ourselves at haeundae fossilized into
scratch marks. my father prays
hamburgers from the grill burnt just right
we plant flags in our backyard and they
whisper to the wind words of
belonging. firework shadows curling
behind us. pulsing sea pulsing salt
in my neck in my crumbling wrists. paper
wrapping my bones. humidity
like my first skin. fingers linked we sink
together into grass we grew. we let
ice cream carve seasons into our throats.
tattoo the sun into my inner thighs.
every year i shed on the last day of may.
my cousin trips on the sidewalk
buried in my pores in the grooves of my
orchid veins i follow. we do not
hold hands. this is summer to me. this
is summer. this is my egg yolk
sun. this is my peeling white paint. this is
my dear halmeoni and grandpa.
this is my two-faced heart. this is summer. what is
bingsu (Korean) – shaved ice
haeundae (Korean) – a beach in the Haeundae district of Busan, South Korea
halmeoni (Korean) – grandma
Jeannie Kim is a high school junior from Chicago with a love for poetry, reading, and playing the flute. She is a Scholastic Art & Writing Awards gold medalist, and her writing has also been recognized by the Genius Olympiad and the It’s All Write Teen Writing Contest. In her free time, she is usually editing submissions as an editor for Polyphony Lit or listening to music.
Art by Saki