One. The first time you learn of revolution you are thirteen. Your mother is emptying the contents of her bathroom drawers into gallon-sized trash bags the clank of crusted nail polish containers and empty hairspray bottles landing in the trunk of the family sedan
Your father, statued on the living room loveseat glass of coke in hand C-SPAN croaking on the rabbit-eared television when your mother leaves for good he will trade his coke for soju like his father but unlike his father will not touch you Just stare through you
Ask how long you have been standing there head filled with the chants of ghosts you cannot hear, Not noticing the hole in your chest half your ribs ripped out Your mother’s eyes staring back at him In the place your heart should be
Two. When the boy too good for you flicks the ash from his cigarette in time with the syncopation of his heart spilling onto the cracked concrete as he says, I’ve never said this to anyone before You will prophecy blood on your hands And think of your grandmother.
Her feet, swollen like uncooked mandoo mangled by thorn and brush enemy fire crackling in genocide firework above the black of her hair Her heartbeat drumming loud in your ears her body seeking flight to survive you will want to laugh at your own thudding apology The adrenaline pulsing in your thighs telling you to run at the sight of anything good --
How lucky you are for your biggest problem to be Unlucky in Love,
your people’s skulls split in two so you could break every heart that came too close so when it is your turn to leave it will be scored with your ancestors’ singsong symphony crooning that nowhere is safe.
Three. You watch as your sisters marry the men who put your brothers in graves. Men with tobacco-stained teeth and too many assault rifles Your sisters think their strings of pearls armor instead of choke-chain like imported china and flat screen televisions will protect them from the end of an empire will save them from another sinking ship Not knowing they will be the first ones thrown overboard no one cares how much jewelry fits on your fingers if they are yellow or brown you can bleach your skin snow but your eyes will always give you away.
Four. A friend asks why you have stopped writing love poems why everything you pen is violence. soju in hand, you say It is difficult to be in love When your very existence Is a declaration of war.
Five. When the love of your life leaves you, when suddenly you are thirteen years old again and your father is staring through you and you feel for your heart to discover it has been carved out and replaced with the shrapnel caught in your grandmother’s hair when the moon is full and heavy and hot, the streets staggering under the weight of the night, the only sound a gentle sob you will realize belongs to you, your body shaking as you force yourself to stay in the dotted lane on the highway though every roadside ditch looks like forgiveness. You will hear the ancestors praise, Child, we have prayed for this. This is all we have ever wanted for you.