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War on our tongues, 1953

Artwork by Vicky Wang, staff artist

We swallowed

dandelions on the hill

behind our temple, drowned

in prayer. Amen—passed down

to every rustic province

in the south, spoon-fed

to you, children formed

from surplus rebellions

and taproots—we used

to own the tilted mountains

of the north, now graveyards

for the relatives we were tricked into

sending down the Yalu River.

This news of death we gnaw on

to feel less god-

forsaken when the war is

half-won, half-home. When

the sky resembles

smoke, we set an extra bowl

at the table, one for the cry

lost to us. We watch

the scallions circle

in the untouched soup,

and bow over a handmade sign:

look for me—age 9—boy, pray

as if we are still caught

in a field of wasted brothers.


Esther Kim is a high school senior from Potomac, Maryland. Her poetry is forthcoming or published in Diode, Up the Staircase Quarterly, and Half Mystic. In the summer of 2019, she participated in the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop. A National Student Poet Semifinalist, she has been recognized by the Library of Congress, the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards as a National Gold Medalist, The Atlantic, and the Poetry Society of the UK. When she's not writing, she can be found taking long walks or listening to a podcast.

Vicky Wang is a high school junior from Jericho, New York. She is loves photography, programming, engineering, and music. Her passion for engineering and love for designing has qualified her and her robotics team a chance to compete at the VEX Robotics state competition amongst fifty other teams, early 2020. Photography is her creative outlet and it allows her to freely express herself and capture the beauty of the world through a lens. When she is not creating, Vicky loves playing badminton, baking, and watching cute dog videos at 3am in the morning.

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