2021 Sejong Writing Competition
Winning Entries :: Sijo
My mother sewed memories:
Hand-stitched quilts, costumes, school clothes.
Fabric squares pieced together,
Log Cabin, Ohio Star.
Vision loss has stolen this gift.
She gave away her cloth today.
I needed a break—or so I thought—the day that school shut down.
Teaching from my couch, my kitchen, my home meant work never stopped.
Who’d have thought going back to school would give me the break I need?
Glittering stars dot velvet sky, the beach beckons, we stroll along.
Gentle waves caress bare feet tickling our toes, I pull you near.
In moonlight, your eyes reflect pain of our lost years together.
Quarantine After Life
for messages fourteen days missed
Left unread on her orphaned phone
among others wrapped in plastic bags
Sealed and silenced like Nainai’s body
Blue-tinged pixels hum a dirge
A Recall to Nature
I wearily gaze an oak standing strong outside my window.
Its presence reminds me I'm not alone; joy and calm replace angst.
A breeze lifts the leaves to dance, my soul joins the pas-de-deux.
The Great Color
White came to colorful land. It stomped on Red, Turned White, not pink.
Next was Black. Turned White, not gray. The great color never got colored.
The White saw Yellow almond eyes. Slanted the eyes not to be colored.
Evasively weaving in and out, they hide and reappear-
Causing pain or shame, but also nostalgic comfort and joy.
Memories. At just the right time, they'll come rushing back to you.
I was Asian and Agorophobic Before 2020
For once I wish I could fly
past the stares and glares of passer-by’s.
For once, wish I didn’t
have to think what they think of me.
I look up. The sky, she sees me.
Maybe I can go outside.
Disabled. I’m able, but your definition excludes me.
Include me, and your perspective might change, your axis might shift.
If only temporarily, because mine is permanent.
Five More Minutes
I seldom see love like my grandparents, still in old age.
He pulls chairs, sits side by side. She brings his coat, holds hands down stairs.
His last night, upon her leaving, he grabbed her hand. “Five minutes more.”
She was like snow, beautiful at first glance, but cold to touch.
But the longer you hold onto snow, the more it begins to change.
She melted in his touch, and he knew that this would happen.
I gather yellow dandelions to make a bouquet.
I get them from the field. I rush with delight to give them to Grandma.
I hand them to her but she can’t reach, so I lay them on a stone.
As the Rain Falls
One-two-three, raindrops falling;
isolated from each other.
Drip-drop-drip, dark and gloomy;
no one laughing, no smiling.
Quarantine did not take everything;
just like the rain, we are one.
The crown bestowed upon me is the weight of nations afar
The jewels dazzle across the room, shimmering like diamonds aflight
“So you like the book?” Mother asks… “Yes...it’s like a whole other world.”
Happily, I watch the buttery fly from one flower to the next.
Such a small beautiful thing, can’t it see its own beauty?
Like us, broken on the inside - unaware of our beauty.
“I can’t wait to go to college,” she says. “Far, far away from you.”
I say my goodbyes and she shuts the car door in my face.
Three hours later, the phone rings; she begs to come back home.
The Rock and the Tree
The big rock sits on a ledge beside a small tree with green leaves.
The rock helps the small tree grow, it keeps the other trees away.
In the end, the rock gifts the tree, by letting it grow through him.
I was waiting for my Uber driver by the dirty road
A hooded man stopped by in his white van and told me to hop in
On the road I get a text from my Uber, “I’m outside.”
I Am Not A Virus
It’s viral, this pandemic—ubiquitous and destructive.
Paranoid furtive glances: the truth unveiled for all to see.
Prejudice will be our downfall. “China virus” makes me sick.