My mother used the same knife for over twenty-five years. That’s roughly as old as I am. Through the slicing, chopping, and mincing, the knife grew paper-thin. As I chewed, swallowed, and slurped, my intestines and my liver, heart, and kidneys grew. Along with the food my mother made for me, I swallowed the knife marks that were left on the ingredients. Countless knife marks are engraved in the dark insides of my body. They travel along my veins and play on my nerves. That’s why a mother is a painful thing to me. It’s something the organs all know. I understand the word heartache physically.
– an excerpt from “Knife Marks“, Kim Ae-ran
There was that pile of paper
I could never keep safe.
The crossed out, always crossed out words,
words always out of order,
words turned beautiful
only because they dissolved
in my frustration.
Only because now I cannot read them
I must make something out of them
something that couldn’t possibly be mine.
The blue ink dripping,
forming planets on unexpected letters,
forming planets on my hands.
I would take them to class
and look at them as if now I meant something more,
now that I was suffering for something I want.
I raised my hands to answer a question
I have already answered hundred times.
I sat down and swallowed my teacher’s frown.
He didn’t have to teach me
that right answers matter
only when they come from right mouths.
(I once got an A only because I forgot to put my name.)
I knew there was nothing I could learn
by swallowing frowns everyday,
but still I dragged myself, my broken planets,
my half burnt poems in my half burnt hands
to the one who doesn’t think twice
before asking me
to hate myself better.
the river behind me
is filled with regret
of swallowing the sun
that she once claimed to love.
she is like me,
so i thought she’d understand.
but she holds my hands,
refuses to give me up
when i try to find out
how much I can be filled.
she fears my temperament
and the dangerous things
i incessantly wish for.
i want to tell her
that my heart is too heavy,
that her kindness is only causing me pain,
that bleeding a bit won’t kill me,
that words won’t save me.
that her embrace would only become
my next hope, my next wound.
*i do not like saying last night
because once i only used to speak of it as ‘yesterday night’
until someone told me that it’s wrong, even if it means the same
so last night
i thought how it is something you’d say
“it means the same, but you are wrong”
(based on reality, read too much into lines,
sounds more neutral that it was, maybe not much of reality then)
my heart feels so empty
can’t you love me bit more
while i try to fix myself
i promise you
one day you won’t have to try
but i need you today
i need you to try a bit for me
can you wait a bit for me
you will remain empty till you hold onto yourself only
contrary to your belief
you cannot fill yourself with you
you can only be full of yourself
which might be the case that you fall under
thought i am not professionally trained
to point out the wrong
in people’s heart
but there is so much wrong with you
that i can’t swallow the judgement i have passed on you
i cannot help you grow up
i have a life, i have a dream
i have a need for someone
who can be there for me
without asking such things from me…
and so went our conversation
and obviously you were right
you were right to such an extent
that i would be just making a fool of myself
if i tried to negate the facts
so being the emotional being that i am
i hated you
for being correct, for being so cruel,
for speaking coldly about me,
for letting me know more about-
victim mentality, and emotional manipulation.
and if i cried now, you’d be proving your point.
if i complained, you’d be writing it down as a case study
to support your claims.
and because of my stupid unrealistic love
and my distorted sense of reality
i sat there in front of you
saying “i am sorry”.
you are right
i need to get rid of what i am
to get anywhere in life,
to get over you.
My mind that understands
is chained and crippled by its understanding.
It only tries to understand new words
by comparing it to
what has already written or read.
It only understands feelings in terms of
the pain it has given
or all it has suffered.
So when I stand in front of the doors of a poem
feeling the sting of December winds on my back.
When I ring the doorbell
and hear from other side “May I come inside?”
I immediately know that this not something
that I understand,
that there is a difference
in reading as if
sitting on the couch in a stranger’s house
waiting to be entertained
and reading as if
I have let the stranger in my own mind
and allowed him to change
the view I have of this world.
Some poems are not just poems.
They are voices that never die
because they have never been born.
They are ghosts that we have always wanted to haunt.
They are names we give to our own suffering,
a closure that only we can give to ourselves.
There are promises that I wanted to make
but knew I could never fulfill.
The imaginary me
that lives in my head
comes up with words too beautiful to last.
So I must swallow them before they reach my lips,
before they reach you ears,
so that there will be one less person disappointed in me
when I am broken down by all that I thought was beneath me.
as I ate,
as I looked around
at the woodwork,
at the dull decorations on the wall,
at the TV show without sound,
as I made way from lifting spoon again and again
swallowing my way through the alieniating conversation,
through the one chunk of time filled with boredom
to the next changing into sadness.
I felt I missed you both.
I am not certain if that’s what it was,
but I recall all the thoughts in my mind,
all their frayed edges,
ending with conclusion
that, “Food tastes better with them.”
The sounds long dead and are born again
as the crack appears in time
and you walk into these arms
swallowing the sun,
swallowing the world,
leaving just us,
looking at your memory passing me by.