my name is wolf (of learning to let you go)￼
abducted / displaced / then / misplaced / your body an object / lost /it learns to breathe / differently / because you can’t / let them know you / are still alive // you learn histories / that were never true / nor did it belong / to you / you learn to / shape your tongue / into lies / until even you / begin to / believe // but pretty sounds / from your lips / after you tamed your howls / never were enough / for them to / love you / and the coldness / of the window / in an unexpected april / reminds you / how you will fight / now / to never belong / to them // you are born / with two things / all yours— / your body / of connected / imperfections / and your death / to come // they convinced you / one is broken / and you have failed / by loving it // the other / your greatest fear / to run from / everyday / for the rest of / your mortgaged life // snow / touches / bewildered bodies / today / the wind / sideways / like a question /forbidden: // what is it / that your dying / has held / so valuable / that they have / worked so hard / to steal / from your heart
daughter, it’s been months since i spoke to you / these days are covered in snow, places melted / hiding the cold pools of water in skies reflected / i woke up with my arms curled tight / clutching something i can no longer remember // yesterday we laughed on our walk / at the tiny footprints left on the steps of / a house around the corner / we wondered who lives there / what small lives // daughter, how does time work where you have gone / i want to say that i picture you in light / in a place more picturesque than this / but i only see your face surrounded by endless black air / how old are you now, daughter / because it’s getting harder to remember / harder to forget // are you a child / are you older than me / or are you still unborn / as you were when you left // it’s winter now / isn’t it always so? / and we are all dying // will you return then / and claim the life / you were meant to own // walk through this world / touch the resentful texture / of a leaf still green / and cry just to feel / warmth on your face // daughter, each day i am afraid / of learning to let you go
in the shower / i scraped dirt off my skin / with an old razor / and wondered if death / is different under hot water // but only small cuts / opened up on / my shoulder / my hip / my thighs / and the blood came / and then dried eventually / as day turned / into gone / into leaving / into promises brought / in the dark // i feel it stinging / even in places / unharmed / i keep reaching / for my eye / checking to see if my lid / is bleeding // i woke up / missing people / i woke up / loving them / but what can such / sentiment mean / in a snow covered forest // i hear / her voice / calling me / wolf / the outline / of my body / made by / her lips // little sparks / of pain / explode on the surface / of me / and there is / so much more / left / to carry
Chiwan Choi is the author of 3 books of poetry, The Flood (Tía Chucha Press, 2010), Abductions (Writ Large Press, 2012), and The Yellow House (CCM, 2017). He wrote, presented, and destroyed the novel Ghostmaker throughout the course of 2015. His poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including The New York Times Magazine, ONTHEBUS, Esquire.com, and The Nervous Breakdown. He is currently at work on My Name Is Wolf, the follow up to The Yellow House. Chiwan is a partner at Writ Large Press, a Los Angeles based indie publisher, focused on using literary arts to resist, disrupt, and transgress, and a member of The Accomplices. Chiwan was born in Seoul, Korea, spent his early childhood in Asunción, Paraguay, and now splits his time between Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.
Copyright: © 2022 Chiwan Choi. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Original Art by Fernando Corona