EJ Koh is a poet and an author. Her work has been published in TriQuarterly, Southeast Review, La Petite Zine, The Journal, Columbia Review, KoreAm Journal, and elsewhere. She is a finalist for the Ina Coolbrith Memorial Poetry Prize. Koh was named as number two in Flavorwire’s (2013) list of 23 People Who Will Make You Care About Poetry. Her first novel Red (Collective Presse, 2013), is available at www.RedtheNovel.com. Her blog is located at www.thisisEJKoh.com.
Visiting My Estranged Mother at A-802 Adena Luce in Seoul, Korea
My new room had blushing walls and glow stars
stuck to the ceiling with wet rice.
She had put a pair of socks on the nightstand
so I would feel
I had been there yesterday and pitched them
to the floor. Cleaning, she would have
picked them up, flipped their ankles and left them
by my bed. I wouldn’t feel like a foreigner. My mother
wouldn’t worry. From the hall, behind the door,
I heard, Do you eat fish?
My body is nobody.
My skull is nobody.
My eyes are nobody.
I wake nobody.
I sleep nobody.
Happy is nobody.
Suffer is nobody.
Little and nearsighted, one living thing.
Then the dead in caskets underground
Like gas pockets in rising dough.
Nobody looks for an incision at the mountaintop.
Nobody is a prophet here.
A dead whale floats, and gas-filled, explodes.
There is food now.
There is sleep.
Nobody is language.
Nobody is a pink lake.
Nobody is the sun.
Remember the human light is borrowed.
Flaming spectacles to wear on the face.
I am sorry to leave.
Even the youngest brain glows.
Nobody’s universe, I see you
suspended between lashes.
I love this terrible nobody of shadows.
The cold goes out, pronged and starskinned.