Aubade in the Aftermath

Listen to Elane Kim read her poem:

Say there is a time for breathing & a time for stillness. Say
there is no place for mourning. It’s easy to know these things.

You can learn to exhale. Let the marrow of dusk leak
onto your knees. We are just soft bones & the places they inhabit.

The act of silence: heavy as rain. Heavy enough to believe in.
We have never been strangers to translation,

the language of crookedness. You find hunger in the health
inspector’s mouth, in antiseptic & ginger. I find it in day

-old receipts & papercuts. Tongues rattling, we are scared
into daughters again & again. Our lungs

the shape of drowning. Someone will always want
to dissect your body, peel it wing by wing. There will be

no vaults wide enough to hold it. So I will take it
home with me. I will give it a toothbrush & softness

& one-half of the bed. We can start like this: at noon, with bird
How to continue: tomorrow, with forsythia in fistfuls. Yes,

we have always been strangers to song. This is why
we scatter our hands to the wind again & again. Yes,

hunger is sometimes a symptom of grief. This is why
there are no instructions for healing, no recipe for light. Yes,

forgiveness will come with the slowness of rot. This is why
we are waiting.

Read the other prize-winning works from the Sixth Annual “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest:

Triptych” by Sarah Lao
Ivy” by Aman Rahman

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