Sarah Lee

An ode to my엄마and아빠

A perfect ground


I remember coming into your room in the midst of the night
3am would wake me
and I would place myself in between two warm bodies
when I was young you barely noticed,
unconsciously placing my hair back behind my ear
and you let me interrupt your dreams
even when I became too big to perfectly fit anymore.

The first time I found out you weren’t perfect,
Was when I had a nosebleed
You told me to stick a tissue in there
I stuck it in there real good
Then it got infected and we had to go to the doctor
You never told me to take it out
It dawned on seven year old me that you didn’t know everything

Tremors under the earth’s soil go unnoticed.

You never hesitated to say the I love you’s,
You raised me to be strong,
When I would cry about stupid things
엄마, you would laugh and take pictures of me crying
I would gasp, indignant that you could do such a thing, when “I’m in such pain!”
But I stopped crying.

I understood sacrifice
Sacrifice is the fourth grade experiment when I decide
To decline a cupcake because I know if I wait an hour, I get two cupcakes
When I got home, I complained about how bad the ride home smelled
Asked if there was something wrong with the car which already had two
Peppermint trees.
엄마, you hushed me with a glare in your eyes, berated me in harsh tones that it was the smell of 아빠’s sweat
The smell of blood and tears,
Of delivering mail without an umbrella in the rain
When pin straight hair curled into drippy ink
Of delivering mail before trucks would clear pavements of snow
Of delivering mail when New York’s humidity and heat would come to a simmer
until  eggs would fry on the sidewalk
And아빠, I looked at you and I felt ashamed
I understood sacrifice.

Rumbles or Rumbles

My first year of college
When I came back Thanksgiving break
I came back with thoughts of mortality
And a swinging emptiness in my chest
You offered me church as a solace
You offered me your god
And I saw my gods crumble as
You brushed your fingers through my hair
And brushed it off.

I tried to explain but soon I got sick of explaining
My case to the court who didn’t know what the prosecutor was
The prosecutor was shadows in the sky and magical dust
Depression was an excuse that people conjured
When they couldn’t deal with reality

The ground splits

And I saw 아빠, you lean into my older brother to help take care of us
I remember the first time we got into an argument
In which you became weary of being right.
And I saw, 엄마, wrinkles form at the sidelines of your face
And I saw you come to a conclusion that never happened
You asked me if someone abused me
And almost couldn’t believe my no.

Your frustration at the why this had happened and
My frustration at your lack of understanding
Melded into the middle of
What was imperfect reality.

“We raised you to be strong”

Disillusionment came softly because
It did not reveal monsters
But rather just humans
As naturally flawed, as natural as the assumption that god is unflawed.

It dawned on nineteen year old me that you didn’t know everything

Sarah Lee is an undergraduate student of Film at Boston University. She likes to make up raps about daily activities such as grocery shopping (e.g., Put some carrots in the CART! Slice them up REAL good!). Sometimes she has weird dreams and tries to translate them into poems.