Hayun Cho

Seasons of Water

Seasons of Water

the town makes its exclusions clear.
as a child, I combed my unruly hair,

pulled a pink shirt over my protruding belly.
I danced under the blackberries with one eye open.

wanted a confirmation of destiny; or, a negation
of my smallness.

a man passes me and says good morning in
a strained voice. in another life, I would have answered.

and something akin to grief; the knowledge that I must always beware.
the spaces of those years: desks at which I sat convinced

of my animalness. and desire to be understood, even held,
left me winded and bitter.

it is summer again; the soul bathed in water of jasmine.
each year, I wanted to be stronger, a terror to all that wounds.

wounded, I contemplate dependence, and love that is given freely.
I see my sisters grow tall. fierce lights astride the highest evergreens.

I wanted a pattern. a power and a price.
and what I got is a long cry.

it ripples in the blue hour of the moon. still,
I will not let a god of bones crown this life.


A man explains to me that the biggest human cell
is the egg. His tone is measured, earnest.
This is a teaching moment. A fun story.
Tiny sperms that work so hard.
Hidden passageways. Small circles.
Chock full, bleeding to the clock,
The pouch inside me laughs and laughs.
This is not a history of cruelty, or even
a lesson. It is my mundane fear of
the gynecologist, my mother’s sadness
which I will never forget.
Somewhere between where I was born
and a non-existent motherland,
a house full of creatures navigates
smoky kitchens, breasts ravaged by time.
Outside a garden may grow, its blooms
wild and fierce, defying death.
I sobbed and she looked at me as if
she had seen it before herself.
A body and its memories, its denial
of essence, makes an archive
that refuses to be explained.
Why not say I am still living,
despite the logic of what is inside me;
Why not spurn what is supposed to be
harvested until I am gone.


The summer unravels like a great shawl.
Beneath a sky reminiscent of lemons,
we chitter away like birds or the girls we once were,
skin shed with each season. We point at the
little bee hives placed exactly at the center;
We contemplate the gut instinct of bees as another
day breathes its last, quiet breath.
What fills our lungs is the blue weaving
through the evergreen. Would you believe it,
if I said you were at the very center, like the
darkened part of the rose?
Maybe we will weep, but then
even weeping will be its own life.
As in a fable, there is a door hurtling open
to a body that may recognize its most piercing need.
Words like ​country​ and ​daughter ​fade, then linger in the wind.
Despite the hundred sadnesses, we take sustenance from
what we feel. And I feel we are deserving
of the demand to be festooned in roses signaling
something other than dependence, or departure.

HAYUN CHO resides in Los Angeles where she is pursuing a PhD in Korean literature. Hayun’s poems can be read in The Margins and Tinderbox Poetry Journal among others.