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it all looks the same

“it all looks the same to me.”

my english teacher says it so matter of factly, because to her it is fact, the way the language that carried me from the womb and into the world is not,

because the way the jaeums and moeums of korean fit together like puzzle pieces is lost to her, the way i understand the world most intimately is lost to her.

i didn't expect her to know. but it shocks me just the same; what looks like mandarin on the screen in her hands, and what looks like perfect expectancy on her face. she

she looked so matter of fact.

do you understand what this says?

no. it looks like mandarin.

oh okay. it all looks the same to me.

it all looked the same to her. the jauems and moeums that fit together to form me begin to loosen, like a bad tooth. i don’t understand

i don’t understand why she can’t see it. every day it is getting harder to keep my knees straight, my shoulder blades in their joints, my coloring the same.

i’d like to tell her, it takes effort to preserve me as i am. i’d like to tell her, it takes all my energy to keep my identity from risk of distortion and saturation, risk that comes simply by being. i’d like to tell her, it is somebody like her who sets the unraveling going. first it is a finger. inky traces of what they used to be– 손가락–then an arm–팔–then my heart–심장– and then hair–머리카락–, and then, and then, and then,

until i am unraveled, ink gushing from what used to be ears. i wonder if my english teacher can see. she mustn’t, for if she could she wouldn’t sound so matter of fact. she must, for if she couldn’t she would not have taken the ink and rewritten me into a single word.

it is a word

it is a capitalized word


it all looks the same by Hiewon Ahn - South Korea/South Africa

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