The shot could save your life,
Or, at least,
your right eye,
from spreading the infection to your left eye,
the good one,
the doctor told me.
To see or to not to see.
As if that is a question to debate,
whether one would choose
not to receive a shot directly into the eye
in order to restore the vision in that eye,
and prevent the infection from spreading
to the healthy eye.
My mentor had someone go blind from the shot,
But I have never had anyone do that,
But I am unconvinced
and think only of the one
for whom the shot had failed.
My finger traced the menu’s Hangul characters,
one by one,
until I found the cherry tea,
and I ordered that one.
A cherry tea, I imagined
a bit tart, a bit too sweet,
bright in color, a delight
to break the monsoon gray May.
Though, my celadon cup bestowed
a familiar childhood memory
I could not place,
I touched the crimson liquid to my lips.
|Hot candy spread over my tongue
like a molten lollipop
as some of the drink mix,
Kool-Aid of my youth,
clung to the maraschino cherry
swimming in my cup.
I grabbed the cherry stem,
the shock of sugar behind my teeth,
gave it a tug.
Maybe some expectations are better left tainted.
meant there was nothing pleasant
to do among the dead
in my babysitter’s backyard.
The crabapples were long perished
under the frost that sealed them in a
half rotten, half unripened state.
The muddy sidewalk froze footprints
until the spring rains came.
The gravel driveway filled with puddles,
not frozen hard enough to skate,
but thin enough to collapse,
allowing the cool water to seep
into worn sneakers a hint
of the cold that was to come
The garden that was never mulched,
at least not by its tenant,
but by nature,
with the rotten tomatoes that
decomposed without ceremony
outside of the once neat rows that were
carefully carved in May.
blond hair wet
Korean flashcard word
by car shop, air wrench buzz
cop’s smile fades
eyes don’t meet
past fish market, cuttlefish eyes,
celadon pots, tile roofs
lines hang clothes
in tightropes between homes
dry cleaning solvent chokes
greets me hi
nods anyong haseyo
at the military gate
guard takes ID
road is flat
as hills begin again
Like a plant,
I soaked in sleep,
but my roots did not grow during my blackouts.
Instead, I was a wilting,
dying weed that hung onto life,
despite all the chemicals applied,
even after the gardener
no longer wanted its presence,
but its eviction.
Yet, the weed carried on in its existence
because it knew no other way to live.
J.L. Smith lives in Eagle River, Alaska. Her work has recently appeared, or is forthcoming, in Dirty Chai, Cirque, and Yellow Chair Review, among others. See more of her work at jlsmithwrites.com.