sunday morning, october.
the dogs were raking their claws on the gates outside,
as the lunar spirit of dawn faded
and raw daylight began to cascade from the ether.
as muddy puddles began to cake on the sidewalk,
she sat on the cold linoleum floor,
aching her body away,
fermenting kimchi in the kitchen.
she stirs the napa cabbage leaves,
swirls it around with her rough leathery fingers
wrings the salt water out of each leaf,
and perches it on a cutting board.
she grabs a knife, and pushes her body against the cabbage.
mopping sweat from her cheeks,
wiping the fog in her spectacles after a slice.
she places another cabbage.
her hand latches onto the slippery base.
but as she kneads, it slips,
the knife runs through her finger.
my mother and I hear her from upstairs.
her whimper, her sweaty hands sliding against the wall.
feel her back bones cracking,
her eyes creasing like a shriveled leaf.
kimchi marinade mixed with tears pouring down her face.
her plastic glove,
chunk of wrinkled flesh,
layers of raw skin
loosely clinging onto her chiselled nails.
so, I kneaded that day –
squeezing the juice out of the cabbage
as if it were my own blood.
About the Poet
Chris Lim is a high school junior attending the British School Manila. He has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards with a National Medal. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Rising Phoenix Review, Eunoia Review, Cathartic Literary Magazine, What Rough Beast, ZO Magazine, and elsewhere. Aside from creative writing, he frequently enjoys attending Model United Nations conferences and swimming on hot days.
For the first time in nearly five years, Vita Brevis is closed for submission. Read the full story here.