This April, to recognize and honor National Poetry Month, we curated a folio of poems by 10 Asian American high school students. This page features Kaylee Jeong's "Intercession Prayer." We invite you to take a moment to read the other nine poems in this collection here.
— Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello, Poetry Editor
Like tomorrow, we ignite, but quietly.
My mother has already risen. Sun
drowns the dirt path outside
the window & we still haven’t learned
how to gather light in our skirts
& hold it without trembling.
My mother: a horizon folded
into a woman’s body. Her bare feet
ridged & browned softly
like all the hills she has never
left behind. My mother: her hands inked
rubber-black. Who knew love
could smell like a sweatshop. Or
overripe fruit, crushed beneath the weight
of hours. From her basket, she takes
the sky she bought at the market
& tells me take it home, so I bury it
in the ground when we plant our knees
in soil, our backs bent the same way
we bow for prayer. & if my mother
has taught me anything, it is that god
listens closest when we waste no time.
So I pray. Dear god, let my mother reach
for the morning. & let her,
like tomorrow, leave everything behind.
About this Poem:
This poem was loosely based on what I know of my grandmother's story growing up in poverty as a single mother of three in South Korea. It attempts to address the sacrifices she made to help her children to leave poverty behind and embrace a new life abroad.
This piece was published as part of the April Youth Poetry Folio. To see other works from the folio, please visit the table of contents here.