Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BORDERLANDS; FOR MY GRANDMOTHER, by SUJI KWOCK KIM

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BORDERLANDS; FOR MY GRANDMOTHER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Crush my eyes, bitter grapes
Alternate Author Name(s): Kim, Sue Kwock
Subject(s): Death; Korea; Korean War, 1950-1953; Soldiers; Dead, The

Crush my eyes, bitter grapes:
wring out the wine of seeing.

We tried to escape across the frozen Yalu, to Ch'ientao or Harbin.
I saw the Japanese soldiers shoot:

I saw men and women from our village blown to hieroglyphs of viscera,
engraving nothing.

River of never,
River the opposite of Lethe,

dividing those who lived from those who were killed:
why did I survive?

I wondered at each body with its separate skin, its separate suffering.
My childhood friend lay on the boot-blackened ice:

I touched his face with disbelief,
I tried to hold his hand but he snatched it away, as if he were ashamed of

eye grown large with everything it saw, everyone who disappeared:
pupil of suffering.

Lonely O, blank of an eye
rolled back into its socket.

I was afraid to see you:
last thoughts, last dreams crawling through his skull like worms.

First published in The Kenyon Review, Volume 25 #3/4 Summer/Fall 2003.

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