jessica kim

"ON LEAVING"

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.