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She Home Bound

by Michelle Myers

For Brenda McMillan and Myong Myers

 

The ache to die in the place that She had lived

began in her feet,

this yearning for crossing a threshold

that She could call her own.

And her feet bore the ache down

deep as She walked through life

searching for a place to die.

But this place could not be the

land in which She was born for

restless feet had carried her from post-war

Korea, fatherless and therefore nameless,

a might-as-well-have-never-been-born existence,

on child-sized feet that bore witness to

moving spaces to which She had

no connection.

And when the sky finally fell under the

heavy hand of a cruel uncle and loveless

stepfather, her bare feet swept

She and her younger sister along

suspiciously shifting mountain roads seemingly

filled with growling horangi—tigers—to stand on

a train platform to Seoul

singing songs for candy

and sleeping on benches,

trusting the kindness of passing strangers to

get them on the right rain to

somewhere-other-than-here.

But her sister’s feet did not bear the

same kind of aching and so

retraced footprints in retreat with

an exhaling breath reserved for

a resigned return to the only

place the sister had ever known.

And since She could not call this home,

She let her sister go and

kept moving forward, ever yearning—

“I want to die in the place that I have lived”—

But knowing She had not yet lived,

her naked feet bore her across a fluid earth,

seeking refuge in solid ground that

her feet could root into.

And it was this primal connection to the land

that made her feet thirsty

and, therefore, impatient.

So they clung to the first bit of rocky

ground to stretch underfoot and

being tired and lacking the restless

defiant spirit She once had,

She relented to her aching feet and

set down roots in this cold soil,

almost barren of water and light.

Yet She willed herself to stretch upward and

outward and a home grew from her fingertips,

and beneath the encircling canopy of her arms,

a dandelion daughter and

a dandelion son

managed to spring from the precarious

soil and while the seasons came and left,

the winds ever relentlessly

pushed and moved the dry

unreliable dirt around her,

exposing her

aging

brittle

malnourished and

long-forgotten

feet.

When the dandelion daughter

and son bore witness to this,

they cried salty tears that only

made her feet more root bound.

And as the winds howled heartlessly

around them, the dandelion son

and daughter tried to dig her out but soon

understood her feet had become too

firmly planted and She would only

leave this place if She were

ripped out or

cut away.

So in the time they had left,

they messaged her aching feet as best

they could until the winds became too

powerful and the dandelion son blew

away on wispy seeds that wandered

aimlessly on precocious air currents.

The dandelion daughter watched her brother until

he was out of sight then turned and

pleaded with She in desperation:

“Please just pull up your feet and walk away!”

But even as She heard her dandelion

daughter’s words and felt the land beneath

her crumbling away from her aching feet,

She only knew what She had always known—

“I want to die in the place that I have lived”—

and with that whisper She blew

her dandelion daughter away with

the hopeful wish that wispy seeds would

find firm footing on solid ground

somewhere-other-than-here.

 


 

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