Lessons in Queens

A 100 day old boy should never be
Left in the company of his 5 year old sister
                                                           While he’s bouncing on the little window ledge
Because he will fall onto the bare floor—
His black hanbok hat head first and cry.

One should always plan for a 100 day birthday celebration
Or else, the mother will cry alone in the moldy bathroom,
Throwing the wallet draining feast of fried chicken and
Plate of rice in the bathtub.

                          Touching the silky hanbok in her lap that her
                          Mother adamantly packed in the maroon immigration bags,
                          She laments her loyalty and ended up an

                                                                                                  Alien housewife.

An Alien housewife should never strut down the street in a breezy
Blue and white pinstripe tweed suit.
Even if the family outing is the first in months—
Especially if she’s not even 5 feet tall because the
Foreign heels will
                                 Twist her right ankle, slipping on top a subway grate—and fall.

I was only 5 but I felt your embarrassment and sweaty grip
When Dad sympathetically smiled and muttered, bbal-ee ga-ja,
                                                                                           let’s go quickly.

I found a neat pile of the
Uncanny fabric squares in the same pattern
In your red sewing basket. I
Finally understood.

When Grandma visited and I wanted her to make hacky sacks, you tossed
Those squares into my lap and silenced
Me with your stare—
                                             Sorrow stenciled against her loose, pale face while
                                filling up the hollow fabric ball with
                                                                                         uncooked rice.

Su Cho was born in South Korea but grew up in the suburbs of Indiana. She now studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and sadly comes to her new home in Staten Island, New York during breaks. Her poems have been published in Alloy and The Emory Pulse.