i remember

i remember 
it was cold that day.
my frail body shaking
despite layers of cloth that
strung me to my mother’s back.
i cried.
i remember 
she pat my back,
lovingly whispering “괜찮아”.
it’s ok.
another lie.
i remember
the salt from my tears
mixed with the rainwater
above the yalu river
quenching my thirst,
and my mother’s thirst for freedom.
i remember curling up into a ball
to stop the pains jolting
up my stomach.
i don’t remember seeing my mother’s feet:
blue from the icy river,
blood drying on the insides of her shoes
forming tiny knives that bit
at the bottoms of her too-tight shoes.
the harsh wind blew through her hair,
gave her aches
like a hammer knocking at a stubborn nail
refusing to be pinned into the wall.
tap. tap. tap.
i don’t remember my mother speaking to the authorities,
her voice soft and pleading
like silk flapping in the wind.
i don’t remember my mother’s screams
and her calluses from soap on too many clothes and dishes.
i don’t remember
because my mother gave her freedom
for me.
i remember
waking up in a new town
far from my home in north korea.
i remember making a new life
with my thai friends, laughing over a bowl
of fried noodles.

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