Teen Sequins 2022: Jessica Kim, Age 18
Under the giwa rooftop, I angle my palms
to match the constellations, yellowed like family
portraits that have simmered in the sun for too long.
The air ripening with tragedy, suffocating a country
born into rebellions, a girl born into exile. I caress
my face with my delicate fingers as if it is valuable
enough to be a family heirloom. Pretend I am regal,
just like the nation’s prized daughter. Even at dawn,
I am the only one awake, searching for faint sunlight
but instead finding a wounded magpie. Its chirps
oddly familiar, as if to hear my past self desperate for
revival, but muffled by gunshot. I cannot differentiate
between rebuttal and revolt: both violent, bloodied,
not for timid girls like me. I unlearn tradition by
dismantling this hanok home. First, by puncturing
the ondol floor, then disintegrating the clay walls
into lumps of breath. Finally, I punch every tile
off the roof, expecting to see the sun crystalized
into the mouth of my country. But all that’s left is
the dismal skyline, overthrown by radiant daughters.
On this land, I am told there is no light, even at sunrise.
Jessica Kim is a disabled writer and high school senior. She is the 2022 National Youth Poet Laureate runner-up,
a 2022 Youngarts Finalist in Writing (Poetry), and a Commended Foyle Young Poet. Her poetry chapbook,
L(EYE)GHT, was published by Animal Heart Press in April 2022 and her poems can be found
in POETRY Magazine, The Adroit Journal, Frontier Poetry, and her website at
jessicakimwrites.weebly.com. Besides writing poetry, she serves as the
Editor-in-Chief of The Lumiere Review and Polyphony Lit.