Margaret Rhee

May 29, 2009

Address: the Ocean

We peered into circle windows     Backs of tan leather seats

Boats rocked slowly                      To the water

My Appah                                      In a small cardboard box

On a yacht with your mom Half smile

I prayed Atheist Father                  Don’t burn in hell

Baptize me                                     I sink deep

Answer: Ashes part the sea

3 Circles, An 8, A Triangle

past the kitchen table

through the living room       behind

the flower blue couch

open the back door

the space

between our house and our neighbors

discarded basketball hoop

cardboard boxes

orange grocery crates

i discovered

soft purring

underneath mama cat

black        white streaks

mean   narrow   green   eyes

i begged my mom

we   gave   them   food

milk in Styrofoam islands

cut up hot dog

dried anchovies   soft      from

making broth    in a halved empty milk carton

the kittens ate

bulging eyes

i screamed with pleasure

i’m not sure what happened

if they grew up and away

not needing their home

cardboard boxes    discarded basketball hoop

orange grocery crates

soft warm belly and breast

i only saw mama cat alone now

along the fence     in between

our house and our neighbors

i had wanted milk

but there was none for days

cans of food lined our cupboards

3 Circles            An 8             A Triangle

Green Peas     Peanut Butter     Carrots

White Space/Black Line

Evaporated Milk

at the market

mom pays with food stamps

i always back away        she nods

and lets me

my birthday            at MacDonald’s

we stacked   the hamburger cartons

until    they   fell

Burger King was the best

we all wore crowns

eating at Taco Bell

mom asks me if i’m still hungry

i want more cheese

she says   she’ll ask

after I eat some more

the kitchen cook?


i don’t know how she knew

i would forget

all day

the TV on        i fall asleep

sprawled on the living room carpet

not knowing the    couch    blanket   or bed

mom comes home      after

Blue Ribbon Dry Cleaners    Lucky’s Supermarket

Mr Ed     Mary Tyler Moore   I Dream of Genie

she scoops me up

the stairs        to our bed

feels my feet

they are always   cold

holds them between

her weighty breasts

let the rivers of milk   flow


Margaret Rhee is an emerging interdisciplinary writer, scholar, and artist, dedicated to social justice.  She is a doctoral student in Comparative Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, lover of full bodied coffee and wine, and a Kundiman fellow in poetry.

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