Listen to Elane Kim read her poem:

I want to be the discount bookstore and all its stock, the copper bell
at its door. I want to be bright scarves, soft rain, seabirds
pecking at receipts. I want to be the stripe of pepper
on your cutting board, the expensive cut at the supermarket. Its film

of fat and the way it sticks to you. I want to be honest. I swear.
I can only say what I mean. I mean my face is your face. My country is your
country. I want this to be true, to be hydrogen peroxide:
the hiss, the foam at your mouth. To be like rain,

an open wound. The floodgates after the first bite. There are jungles ripe
with this kind of wildness. The sky, pale-orange, is only a measure
of the asbestos in our lungs. I want you to hold yourself
like an armful of birds. Not a bullet or a burning field or just

a body. I believe in so much that isn’t there: a soft apple
bruised and alive, wildfires leaking in the backyard, a pulse
as you sleep. Give me something I can outlast. Give me more
to call my own. An apron, an old encyclopedia. The dying streetlights

or a beehive in front of the brown vitamin store. There is shelter
to the smoke somewhere, enough square feet of granite, enough time
to pay the rent. Survival doesn’t have to be an act
of loneliness. I promise I will say grace. I will be your wheatgrass,

yes. The way it sticks to you. Photographic film, expired film, overripe
fruit. The ceramic bowls you never use for yourself. Your red packets
of ginseng extract, raw peanuts, a whole hometown of bitterness.
A poem to fit in your mouth.

Read on . .

More about the winners of the Eighth Annual High School Writing Contest