Grandma didn’t have a washing machine in 1960
when Old Korea began to industrialize so she had
conversations with bald eagles perched on dispirited cobblestone.
She worked at the bottom of the hill
where people would scour for herbs and fruits;
four clotheslines were strung on eroded metal poles
like a skeletal Stradivarius violin.
Grandma would stomp on the brown dirt and
pinch dirty laundry onto a clothesline while
would whisper into her inner ear.
She took Grandpa’s pants and
drenched them with wispy curses of indignation,
wringing the excess soap water from the crotch.
Grandma plucked a clothespin from the line
like the snap of an American shotgun
and raised her beliefs.
The lemon sun would dry these quickly
But instead, her faith shriveled under years of sunlight.
At night, Grandma would look up at the moon’s retrograde motion
and slice a piece of the speckled sky for herself.
She would unspool the tender sinew from voluptuous stars
and pretend to sway the waves until her body ached.
From a river of sea salt tears,
Grandma told me to be red fire;
the same fire that tickled at her hometown trees.
the same red that America loves: the red
of freedom, sacrifice, blood, and democracy.
T. Han is a student in California. He hopes someone can find solace in his poetry.