Breaking Point


by Jessica Kim

I sip the hours like chamomile 
tea. This is your medicine & mother 
would brew admonitions into the 
mixture: remember to wash the dishes, 
it’s time you stop wearing the dresses 
you’ve outgrown. I only dream of 
freedom & girlhood. I hide ribbons in
tree trunks, chiseling prayers for a magic 
treehouse; take me somewhere else. 

Shape-shift. Tell me I am the moon &
cradle me in those love-soaked palms. 
Lopsided constellations dangle from 
the night sky where nothing is 
permanent. Mother, can you find me
In the receding valleys of my
widow’s peak, early sunlight scattered 
like strands of white hair. The way my 
face contours into riverbeds & I learn 
what it means to age, the way a girl 
tramples on bruised soil, unnoticed. 

Instead, mother teaches me how to 
cut the bellies of fruit without remorse, 
how to forget her existence & how one day 
she will be gone. Be strong, girl. 
Tonight, the bloodthirsty crescent feeds
on my cartilage with a mischievous grin
& I am reminded of how the world 
is still a stranger, stripping away my 
childhood like pork meat, the 
bleached bones rattling to the floor.

Jessica Kim is a writer based in California with works appearing or forthcoming in Cosmonauts Avenue, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Yes Poetry, and more. Her poems have recently been recognized by the National Poetry Quarterly and Pulitzer Center. She loves all things historical and sour.