Kate K. Choi

what the mothers do



Anatomy of a Whale

Compare my ribcage

to whale bone.

If you must, consume

me, but I will haunt

you with the memory

of having been


To forget, you can try

to make of my gut sweet

smells, of my skeleton sucked-

in waists. It will not matter.

Come nightfall, you will stare at the sky

as Jonah did, drifting

and caged,

searching for stars without

end within the ridged hollow

of my blowhole. Until then,

from my mouth make

vessels, shelter roofs, keys

to play double-four. In darkness,

light your way

with the dead

oil of my body.



We Call This Bravery

White. The roads
are paved with salt, the byproduct
of attempting to expel
tender. All tears swallowed
in the sink smother

We learn the recipe from our mothers,
our brothers in oyster rooms. Marinate
in silence—three days. Wait to split
and become tough.
In two more days,

the silence will expand close
to unbearable. The marination
will reject the salt. It is important that this occur
privately, with the bitter thrill of consuming
a secret. Hide in a dry, dark place.

Last, be disbelieving.
The gravel walked tomorrow cannot be crusted
with salts you did not use. A starving
belief in this allows you to cry
again the sixth night. The seventh,
the marination restarts.

In the mornings, walk gingerly—with reverence,
if you can muster it. Look down

at your salted feet. Taste your tears
between your toes.
This is the stubborn result
           of our refusal
to accept participation in tragedy.



Kate K. Choi is a high school junior living in Seoul, South Korea. Her writing has been recognized by the National YoungArts Foundation, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the Seoul International Women's Association, and more. Additionally, she has work published or forthcoming in Paper Crane, The Hearth Magazine, Cathartic Youth Literary Magazine, and After Dinner Conversation, among others.