I barely recognized my voice
in that sliver of a country, Korea.
Memory kept its own beat there.
The war long over and the moths
insistent in their night flight.
It was the moths’ bodies that
separated the air, particle from
particle. I leaned closer to hear
the sound of the moths’ wings
touching all that was unseen.
That summer Koreans spoke
to me in the language I too
once spoke, so familiar it hurt
to hear. It was almost too
much for me to utter a syllable
of that old language, how each
sound rattled my bones. Midsummer
and I wanted to be blessed
for such endeavor, for daring
to return after so many years.
I wanted someone to speak my old name,
Hyun Jee. Everything seemed a mystery
tumbled out of an old dream I had long
put to rest. At night I watched the sky to see
the horizon, that imaginary line that
separates earth from sky. The horizon
there was formed from the red neon
crosses pinned high above the churches.
I stretched my thin wrist towards
the Han River letting the water stain
my skin, letting the damp of the river
cut into my memory.
Lora Vahlsing is a practicing artist & yogi. She teaches yoga and art in the Fond du Lac area.