My Mother on the Lava Cliffs of Jejudo

We grasped those pink plumes
tethered by bamboo. Our fans

opened wide with a flick,
obscured everything we wanted.

A gaggle of delicate-footed girls
huddled together, transformed

into a trembling lotus, eager butterflies,
and shapes we’ve never seen.

All we did was open ourselves
like peonies reaching for light.

Our fluttering hid our parents’ faces
in the crowd. Their pure girls on stage,

hanbok skirting the floor,
a twirl, sliver of white sock,

white shoe, a wave of seafoam
rolling against a lifeless beach.

Su Cho is a poet and essayist born in South Korea and raised in Indiana. She is the author of the poetry collection The Symmetry of Fish (Penguin, 2022) which was a winner of the National Poetry Series. Her work has appeared in places like The Best American Poetry 2021, Best New Poets 2021, and They Rise Like a Wave: An Anthology of Asian American Women Poets.

Her editorial work includes serving as Guest Editor for Poetry magazine and serving as editor-in-chief of Cream City Review and Indiana Review. This fall, she will join Clemson University in South Carolina as an assistant professor of English teaching creative writing and poetry.


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