Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 3



Soo Yeon Chun


The Sound of Metal

Family meals are made of whispers,
barely contained in small bowls and stained cups.

A pot of kimchi stew floats on the table,
an island waiting to be invaded.
My mother takes a spoonful
and shoves it down her throat in a painful
gulp.

A stubborn silence embraces us from above.
How do you adopt a silence,
make it your own?

I peel the crusts from my sandwich,
revealing the soft white skin beneath,
and fish the lettuce out.
My sister jabs at her bowl of rice,
her lone chopstick a spear slicing through the bush.
The cling of metal, a summoning.

Words begin to pool in the hollows of my mouth,
my father’s spoon sinks deeper into his bowl,
clouds gather in my mother’s eyes. I throw my sandwich down,
scattering drops of mustard over the table.

A bitter thank you falls from my mouth—
and one by one, we rise with our heads hung
in victory, leaving behind
a wreckage of possibilities.




Under a Broken Sea

I like to think you chose me
As I wandered along the rocky shores,
As the sun’s rosy fingertips breathed
Colors into the water.

That cursed moment I saw
The line tense, the tiny breaths bubble,
My mother slowly pulled you in—
A white streak slicing through ocean’s flesh
Like the surgeon’s knife through her abdomen.

She gently handed you to me
And I held you up to my eyes, said I love you
But you were too busy fighting. Oh, if only I could see
One more time how vigorously you flailed!
If only I had dropped you on the boat right then,
Pried open your mouth,
And removed the piece of me that I gave you!

But instead, I released you
Because my heart sank thinking
How beautiful you must have been
As you swam in the depths of the unknown,
As you tapped into the deepest corners of my mind.

I once thought I made the right choice
Until my mother heard of your escape.
The family photos dangled limply on the walls,
Waiting for somebody to fish meaning from them.

Her eyes became oceans,
Her back arched in a silent cry
As memories thundered down her spine.
Sometimes you have to let yourself thrash,
She whispered.

And as she shattered,
Her blue and white nails
Began to flash—
A kaleidoscope of tears
Too bright to keep.




The Art of Crying

Is like eating a rabbit with strawberries:
it's so tender it melts before you can chew.
Your teeth turn into fangs,
and your tongue prods for a hollow sweetness.

First, close your eyes and feel
the gentle hands holding you underwater
for a split second longer,
a blissful struggle you want
so desperately to lose, but cannot.

Then, wrap your arm
around your broken mouth;
let it leak into your sleeve.

Finally, cradle the darkness
until it hugs you back.

When does it end, you ask?

Well, I’ve seen many people practice this,
swimming with ghosts under their eyelids—

and I just wait,
dancing to the rhythm of their sobs
until they shed their skins,
dangle a loose smile and say:

"some words are just so annoying, you know.”




Bright

The room is mostly bright.
Sometimes too bright to leave.
The two sides are similar.
But one side doesn’t belong.
Like two hands forced together.

She was mostly bright.
Until she saw her hands.
Her thumbs were too small.
She told people they were ugly.
They never listened to her.
Only listened to the light whisper.

She mostly tried being bright.
People loved her pale hands.
She kept them to herself.
They asked to see them.
She replied they already did.




Dying Green

she stumbled out of my mouth,
      raw and ugly. hardly concealing her
 prickly Hair and green Skin, she felt no shame.
     I hastily wrapped her in blankets
and muffled her Cries
     the way one crumples paper
into a muted ball.

and as she began to grow, I began to
hate how she stared with a pooling Look
that spilled into my cupped, trembling Hands.
hate how her Words seeped out the corner of my twisted Lips
like drool. I’m sure she hated me too,

how I fed her scraps of leftover Thoughts,
how I attached feathers to her green Arms
to hide. I tried to swallow her back multiple times,

when she ripped photos off walls
and painted them dirty green,
when she buried strawberry seeds in the backyard
and patted the soil down with her stubby Fingers,
squatting outside for hours. I failed to eat her back, but I knew

one day she would walk out the door
and never look back and that was the day
I closed for good. what I didn’t know was

as she tiptoed across the floor,
and slipped out the room that night,
her Eyes concealed something bright—

and I would tremble awake to find
green stains blossoming
all over my wracked Body.



Soo Yeon Chun: "I am currently a rising junior at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. Besides writing into the midnight hours, I enjoy listening to music and practicing drums. Previously, my works have been recognized by Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, Jack London Writing Contest, Sheila-Na-Gig, and other online publications."




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