the sweetest melon and other thoughts in a mok yok tang
(a mok yok tang is a traditional Korean bathhouse)
Face down on a plastic table—
soap splayed across the thick of my thighs.
Ankles crossed, all is lotion’s languor.
Grandmother— rolls me over
with nipples like pitted seeds.
Is anyone’s grandmother
in the cheap lingerie, so spry and Korean grandmother.
Her callouses shuck my skin— it rolls.
In the mess nakedness is plush and cathedral— I lay babe.
They eat cantaloupe from the same fork
from the samefork I eat cantaloupe.
Grandmother peels my arm from elbow hook to pointer
dead skin is a sweet fruit worm—
my lazy eyes wink out of fleshy parts to own.
We all slept in the same bed—
bodies curved like mandibles.
I was plume and warm feathered
by your ginseng breathing,
my blue mother’s veiny arm. In
the hunger pit of my stomach—
peach blooming and throbbing,
I think I knew then. Of the tenuous
nighttime prosody between us
and how in the morning, at the fire—
you would be vulpine and spicule. Not
like your midnight air, red ginseng.
Nor herbal or wise, father—
you were never my sanctum.
Katy Kim is a student. Her work is forthcoming or published in Hobart, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, inter|rupture, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and has been featured on Verse Daily, among others. Her first chapbook, “Melon / Echelon” is forthcoming from Hermeneutic Chaos Press.