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mysterious as a 1975 

alchemical creation concocted out of 132

perfumes from her symphony of sweet florals

dusky ambers & oceanic linens

all fused with her natural

chemicals and last night’s kimchi stew


yet her underlying melodies

simply untraceable like the base

colors of Pollock paintings


like the diffuser of life 

she inhaled her pride while i 

spewed secrets in english:

words she would stumble upon

as she carried dictionaries of puzzles 

piling them gently despite her clogged filters


she exhaled only the shasta daisies 

into my lonely garden


i’m sorry umma but how can i forget 

those sighs and salty tears 

you wiped with the hands that carried 

whiffs of burnt bulgogi

hoping to conceal the embarrassment

of which i was the cause

with spritzes of patience and fresh 

nectarine blossom 

when it’s already imprinted in my memory

and your memory foam


i now dive straight into its fluffy haven and kiss

the nostalgic whiffs, scrambling for hints

that’d later haunt me like the unopened letter

stashed away in my suitcase 

if only i could then forget how your bruises

hardly appeared to heal


i’m sorry umma but i needed time

to heal as my spit-out sharp-edged words slashed 

rare diamonds unabatedly yet 

the mother in you knew my whimpers 

were sirens so you’d pretend not to crack

while bruising internally

saying nothing yet everything 

with your smile lines 

your light spritzes of nectarine hope


your scent is medicine without expiration

taken on nights i grapple with my future becoming

and as your scent permeates my mind

i bottle you up in my heart’s crevices 

knowing you’ll want me to wear my life proudly

the way you could not.