Halmoni told me to never put a knife to my face. / I like to imagine she thought I was beautiful
Halmoni’s hands rinse seaweed, pinching the ends
of a rice cake, picking out the bones
from the flesh of a belt fish.
Somewhere, I write a poem about euphemism.
Japanese soldiers line outside the stations for comfort,
a young, hairless virgin,
barren by the end of the war.
When the last Rising Sun flag lowers,
children wander the streets, screaming
for American chocolate. I imagine it rained
on August 15, 1945.
Three years later, a GI walks into a bar,
orders a scotch on the rocks, fucks a Korean girl,
and returns to battle in the name of liberation.
Military doctors operate on the faces
of camptown women, cutting
creases into their eyelids, transplanting
cartilage to the nose, their flesh,
this country, so young
and soft and beautiful.
Halmoni told me to never put a knife to my face.
I like to imagine she thought I was beautiful,
holding my head between her hands, scanning the curve
of my monolids, my flat nose,
my small mouth.