At the funeral, I couldn’t speak for her,
though I wanted to. Instead, I listened
to an uncle tell the story about the fishhook
she pulled from her hand, how it bled.
How she did not cry. When she tried
to tell me what it was like, I told her she
was lying. I didn’t want to believe.
She took my head in her hand and cradled
me to her stomach. In that ear pressed
to her body, I knew the sound of the desert.
Wanted to descend into her past — said
I’d take my hammer. I’d tear it down.
But when I got there, there was nothing
left to destroy, so I learned to destroy
myself. I thought she meant to live
with a fishhook in the palm of my hand.
I thought I was supposed to bleed
and never let my mother see me cry.
If she could see me now, this life,
this voice, I know she would say
I have been a fool. Why do you try so hard
to see my hands when you won’t even look
at your own? Bachan, I am trying,
but I still open my palms without knowing
what to hold.
Kazumi Chin is a poet from El Cerrito, California. He earned his MFA in poetry from the University of Pittsburgh and his BA in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside. His most recent work can be found in Twelfth House, Wu Wei Fashion Mag, GlitterMOB, and the Ilanot Review, and his poems have been featured in Juan Felipe Herrera’s Lo Writer writing series and Split This Rock’s Poem of the Week.