Poetry by Minha Kyun

The Outskirts of Balsam Street

Midnight, fireworks flare above the Fraser River
as their sounds echo through Kerrisdale,
and into my room. Midnight
on the first day of January, starting in the late winter
with branches of magnolia, I am left out by the Vancouver sky
pouring foreign remnants. I misremember my 14
as too many changes piled up and on ticking sound
of time passing, was going to pass.

Silence is set by who I am, lost between countries
confusing my homeland and the language
I once spoke. My comfort places now
and again: a picture of my family in colors
of blue and gray hanging above my bookshelves,
books whiffing dust, piles of letters
from my friends; five minute walk from home
the church, stained glasses, singings

of hymn—in words I missed
and it soothes me to empty out the airplane
still floating in me and a country
I never knew I’d be in. So
it was midnight: magnolia tree
between home and church, leaves glazing
under winter blows, howling of winds,
the breaths, the blooms, the beginnings, to begin.

Above Banpo Daegyo

Air outside the airport
feels damp and heavy. Wheels
of my suitcase roll out whirling
around my ears and into the trunk.
My mother holds my hand like she had
years ago when we first arrived
in the States. Four years old with hair
coating my shoulder, I was scared
of people speaking words I’ve never
heard before. The only ones
I knew, “hello,” “yes,” and “Virginia.”

Now memories froth
upon the word “Virginia,”
water sprinkling from the hose
my mother used to garden, snow layering
on the window sill, and an apple tree
I could see from my porch—reddening
until my sister and my brother and I
climbed on it to collect
every one of them.

I remember loving
the fireflies between cranberry bushes
and the closet we hid in for hours
until one of us fell asleep. Some nights
dusted in stars glowing so brightly, now
I know it is called satellites.

Ride home from
the Incheon airport and I hear the winter breaths
frosting away into the air. Droplets that floated
in puddles of the Kenilworth Garden
and joined the Pacific, are now gliding on my window
as my eyes follow a swish of the Han River
flowing up towards our home.

The light glints
on the water streams, I dream
of the River on the oldest day I recall, sunlight
sticking onto leaves above my head
and my eyes reflecting the river
curving in and out casting away.