APRIL POETRY: "Intercession Prayer" by Kaylee Jeong

Curated as part of the Youth Poetry Folio for National Poetry Month
April 5, 2019

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

Intercession Prayer

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.


Kaylee Jeong

Kaylee Jeong is a Korean American high school student living in Portland, OR. She has poetry in or forthcoming from BOAAT, Cargoes and The Rising Phoenix Review. In addition, her poetry and short fiction have been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, Hollins University and Columbia College Chicago.