BYUNG A.
FALLGREN

Byung A. Fallgren is an author of several books for Young Adult and Children. Her poems have appeared in The Avocet, Santa Clara Review, Terror House Magazine and Talking River Review, among others.

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THE WOMAN AT THE FROZEN CREEK

Your image stirs, washing a GI’s uniform at the frozen creek,

your hands scarlet-red, your face, a sunflower, turned to
bronze statue in the howling wind.

To feed your hungry children, to help support Husband with

a mouse-tail-sized salary, in the time
                         of war-ravaged recovery.

When no food to cook, you said, you boiled water.

Whenever I see a frozen creek, I think of you, Mother,
laundering the uniforms of American soldiers who paid you

bread, candy bars and chocolate, for the money was spent
on beer and women or sent home to stateside.

 


While I lived far away land, your other daughters and
a granddaughter provided you with love as

the only thing I gave you the worries.

Weathered and fragile, you fell from the bus on the way
to the temple, to pray for me. To pray for me.

Your years were meant to flow then. 


You died, praying for me. For me to pray.

Whenever I think of you at the creek,

washing the soldiers’ uniforms,

I plunge into the icy stream and

 

warm the water for you, with my hot tears.

                                 

                       With my blood tears.

You are the springtime of earth;
           green sprouts beneath the ice. 
I learn of you more often

                    as I age blue and deep.

THE JOY OF OUR LIVES

Reds must’ve abducted him, my mother used to
say of her big brother, dabbing at her eyes.
Before the separation of the peninsula,
they kidnapped many smart people
to the north to build a super power nation.
My brother was an educator, 
tall with golden-tanned skin. 

She sobbed. We must unite!

Her brother
only a few miles away from her rural home over
the high mountain across the river.
By then the siblings had long since gone.
Bitter smile on the cousin’s face echoed mine.

Now that we enjoy all the modern amenities,
our eyes still wet with yearning to find our lost
relatives, over the barbed wire.
The policy, like air in a balloon,
their constant war-threat,
secret weapons test.

I hear her voice,
What happened to our brotherhood?
What is above the joy of our lives? 
Learn the mountain and ocean, their wisdom.

Her ghost vanishes,
words flying in wind.

AT THE EMPTY HOMESTEAD

Hoarse call of the loon echoes
through the veil of the moon,
stirs the grey images of slumbering tents.

Some chat of the memories
of the aunt’s departure;
of the uncle gone too soon;
of the dwelling up in flame
on the insane summer night.

Too much for the cattails in the moat
to bear alone, so tonight, everyone
chases ghosts in their sleep.

The loon’s call has long since ceased;
couple of stars romance in the tree;
at the moat, he mutters monologue,
comes back to the tent and sobs.
Night deepens with somber remembrance
of the river paused.

Come golden morning. They gather,
chatter; occasional twister of wind,
rise and fall; pain; strain.  

Laughter echoes in the remote homestead,
bridge of the kindred spirit sneaks in the hearts,

the loon calling from the lake in the morning fog.