FROM “1930-1963-1984”

BY GINGER KO

American-born

but always remembered: woman and not white

when I put jade against my body

it’s suffocating

 ***

transl.

Because she was often accused of hanging down her dog-face like her father’s dog face, she grows older and begins to feel the helpless anger weigh her face down, shadow her brow and jaw. She is constantly worried about a face that invites harm.


How am I supposed to be revolutionary if I’ve been bought? I learned to ride a

bike as women were always losing fetuses on bikes, and each time I step out there’s a
ringing attack. I go home and dig out the claws and eye-teeth that have been left behind in the
white tissue of my insides.

Vaguely-edged hives spread outwards from my chest and at last squirm away

through fingers and toes. Unsure if I was born to be more than a body of food, and maybe no death is undeserved. I don’t have to take any old miseries, I can just wake in an unconnected day. Only women linger as ghosts in this family.

You don’t take anything inside you. You don’t want condoms so I let them push

copper into my womb, into my arm, I take pills every morning and my body still won’t stop confusing. When I come home from the restaurant in the evenings, you take me to practice driving. I still walk to the abortion clinic eleven blocks away.

***

transl.

Every afternoon the other schoolchildren’s parents would speak too quickly for her to understand. But she knew that she was invited to bring a dessert for a schoolmate’s birthday party, and her daughter watched covetously while almond milk gelatin was prepared with canned fruit cocktail. Her daughter asked for bowlful after bowlful, until she found herself: “Stop asking for more! Stop asking for more!”


tongue-tip split that you have pried apart like raw steak, heavily blue:

the muscle-meat of my voice:

pities and dry night shivers

little animals strung in a shop window

old cooked rice re-watered and softened into a salty slurry

the stinging high sweetness of your lotioned hands

child-bearing years like the absence of a push            clout                punch on my body

when I wanted so badly to be touched

be told that I was no longer a part of an extended legacy

berserker calm             berserker come

even in the mutedness of a violet snowing night have I been insistent

with speaking my story

***

transl.

She reads her sister’s dreams, but does not find herself in them. Big-bellied on her bike, she rides up to the drugstore to buy a baby ragdoll. Yarn as bright as hay, muslin bleached boldly white. But still, her in-laws work their jaws round and round and never stop talking, never stop putting her down. “A woman who doesn’t birth her husband a son gets left behind for a mistress,” they tell her. When the ultrasound reveals that she is carrying a girl, she weeps in her car until the parking lot is empty and the sky is dark.


Ginger Ko writes from Wyoming. Her poetry collection MOTHERLOVER is forthcoming from Coconut Books.


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