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Hyu :: In-Between

At all sides, the trains slip away from us. My sister and I play red light, green light

but with eyes closed and singing instead: the-hi-bis-cus-sy-ria-cus-has-bloomed-a-gain!

Our mother glances at the platform clock and us, as we now practice the art of climbing stairs

slowly, anoint each step with the shadows of scissors, wolves,

shapeshifters we call hands. It’s a quiet

and passionate affair— to dwell in the meanwhile, with a waiting so bright

red like the beads of jujube fruits

our grandmother used to dry

out in the yard, so they would amass all the sweetness of the world in their little bodies.

She taught me nothing is wasted in waiting, and to be grateful for the sun,

which won’t ever hurry. Years after, she’s no longer with us.

I hum: mu-gung-hwa-kkoch-i-pieo-sseub-ni-da!

And a train nuzzles the station, as it arrives, arrives, and arrives.


El Milagro :: Edges

“This is what the sun would taste like

if stored in a fridge,” Alejandra says,

as she hands me a perfectly round

slice of pineapple, chilled,

half-dressed in a thin plastic bag.

She smiles, her face casting

an umbra, in which I am

but a visitor. Once I read each heart knows

its own bitterness,

and no one else can share its joy. But we sit, our backs

mothered by this wall. We: a brief intersection of elbows, a small choir of helpless slurps—

our mouths flooding and the juice

dripping freely, dribbling down

the length of our tanned fingers,

down to dot the sand until we reach

the middle—tough to the touch of our teeth.

I mistake it for seed, but it’s not

seed. It’s corazón, coeur, a core—

what brings together

a fruit’s flesh.

She eats until her hands empty,

while I don’t. It’s hard and not so sweet.


AE HEE LEE was born in South Korea, raised in Peru, and now resides in the U.S. She received her MFA from the University of Notre Dame and is currently a PhD candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her poetry has been published at the Adroit Journal, Narrative, Pleiades, and Denver Quarterly, among others.


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