— Ashton Haq

Sky slouching into darkness.

These days my grandmother

returns to the cold banks of the Imjin

in dreams only.

The blackened sloping roofs with snow,

more ruins than buildings.

The landscape too thin to touch.


America wants what it wants.

My grandmother retreats into the deep

forms of a monsoon wetland,

pregnant mother in tow.


Another disappearing act,

a Baptist hymnal half out of her mouth.

She is twelve and standing ankle-deep

in a rainsoaked rice field.

Hiss of a locomotive. Polestar.

Girlhood is born and reborn

in the green blankness

between your country and the next one.


On the radio, a general speaks.

His men pause to listen

in a hundred cities, tongues lashing

at the single syllable burn.

All over Chongjin

ripening apples drop from their branches

and thunder across the earth.


I bring one to my mouth,

washed under cool water,

the bruises cut from it.


Ashton Haq is a senior at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Texas. Her work appears in print and online, and has been nationally recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.