— yuri han

Watching Umma cook is witnessing

the first cells dividing. A baptism of

any head in water. Chives chiming

and the birth is well done. She takes


an eggplant head from the string like a

drum and sings another song of how

she made me. With these hands, she says. Like how

easy it is to remove the shell of


boiled eggs. How the fire leans a little less

when the pot is cold and how the

red pepper, skin crepe paper, turns into

a column of old mosaic when


dried and swinging. Purple tentacles. Potatoes. She

is making a spicy squid dish, something

washed up on the shores of Busan or Seoul. Another

eggplant, its body whole—sliced from bottom to


hooked plant cap into eighths; in the process of

desiccation, each leg had curled on its own,

the nightshade fruit a soft-bodied mollusk.

Umma drops the purple drum into a


charcoal pot of dancing water. Pockets of

eggplant make the broth. Bubble music and

hiss. Arms curl and whiten. The dumpling cloth

a swaddle for a spotted squash bone. Her arms


are both rigid and bending like the ueong

horns or the hairs of ginseng browning.

She says the kitchen window is her frame and that

her painting is always changing,


growing taller, learning. The broth is now a

stew. Lava-colored, bits of tofu bobbing like

baby heads in the bath. She brings a wooden spoon

to her lips, and smiles like every creator,


This is what he feels on the seventh day, she sings,

this is raising something smaller,

something taller,

into breathing.


Yuri Han is a senior at Tenafly High School. She has been recognized for her art and writing by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the NCTE Achievement Awards in Writing, and the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Awards. In her free time, she spends time with family and friends.