Umma says spring as if we’re moving
forward and not away. The morning
is silent enough for us to hear wisteria
open their feeble lips and chant leave,
leave, leave. I mistake leave for leaves,
cup my palms into a leaf to preserve
the soft-scented petals—ones I will take
home and press between photo albums.
Umma scoffs, says preservation is only
for dead things. She packages the wrinkled
photographs of appa in the boxes we stole
from Walmart a few days ago, face drooping
slightly. I ask umma when she last saw him
and she murmurs: fifteen years ago. Before
I was born, springtime was a time for
first-loves and not departure. Outside,
the wisteria twines onto our house
like a mother cradling her daughter—
it’s not our house anymore. I want to
leave umma in a poem, tucked between
its ruffles like a flower in mid-bloom.
See, it’s possible to preserve her alive,
or more precisely, to leave umma alone
as if this solitude was hers all along.
Jessica Kim is a disabled poet from California. A two-time 2021 Pushcart nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Wildness Journal, Diode, Cosmonauts Avenue, Grain Magazine, Longleaf Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and more. She is the founding editor of The Lumiere Review. Find her at www.jessicakimwrites.weebly.com and @jessiicable on twitter.