Unexpected Vanilla

Lee Hyemi

Half the Blood

Yes I saw the river redden as it parted

When I locked my body with the first key
and opened the blood-gates with the second

flowers poured out through a crack in the night
fading as they met in this strange new kingdom

Flowers erupt through the body
Today I call blood leaking from vessels
the lips of an adulteress

When I stroke my cheek with one hand
and erase my forehead with the other

the evening bleeds out

like lovers parting at the border
like the sun collapsing with its face on the water
blurring the boundaries of the world

Erasable Seeds

Tonight I’ve curled up with a grape in my mouth. With black liquids overflowing from a dream, the grape sheds its tender skin and sinks deep into the earth. Even as the seeds I swallowed without chewing have suffused my bones, transplanting my blood vessels with tiny roots. A plant’s quilt, weaving roots long and thin. When I understand trees and cradle my bones, my skin disappears and my body melts in many directions. I love ripe things. The things that get helplessly squished in between. But could I love your bones? White tree bark protruding from a scraped knee. A seed is not the afterlife of a tree, but the original piece that’s been lost. When a grape seed gradually flows into the root, it fits the last puzzle piece, completing the tree. I know there are faces spreading ceaselessly, just as green seeps out of a dead fence. I know there is a newly thickening forest. Extending our grape vines, we kiss. To find the small, hard seed inside each other’s bodies. We melt it in our mouths for a long, long time before swallowing.

Unexpected Vanilla

It glided along the groove of my ear. Vanilla on the tip of my tongue, dribbling down the subtle bumps.

To keep a universal expression as I scraped all those seeds. With a fluttering heart, I memorized foreign names. My first sensation of sweetness. A special appetite for what vanishes.

It’s true, some hands and knees were melting. We created each other with strokes running hot and cold. In the territory of sound, I’m a flower reclining vertically. Blossoming before a fingertip. The word bosom melts and melds upon contact.

That type of vanilla. To keep my eyeballs adequately viscous, I love strangers the most. Some eyelids grew whole the moment we lost them. They slid and waved their gentle tentacles before falling, heavy with wet.

Receiving the Runny Red Gem

You said you found a snowflake that never melts
the home of the blister growing day by day

We held our breath to erase the boundary of air
Then strange blood seeped from our
tangled tongues and laced fingers

I lowered my head and hid my tongue
until sticky juices dripped between our lips

When I molded the oozing
sap into a secret seed

a berry began to swell
the small warm berry that never wore down
however many times I rolled it around in my mouth

Lalala, Cherries

Hello, I’m going cherry picking I want to fill my pockets with only the ones stained dark Cherries are red copying another red Shall we fill our mouths with cherries and kiss naughtily knottily all night long?

Cherries strip off their flowers and leaves Today they’re just kernels of play
Her cherry hasn’t even had a chance to ripen and burst, to schmooze and ooze We only got to bite into a clump of green And now the season’s almost over We were harvested too soon I want to swirl my paints inside her mouth This is the time of cherries A time that stains

translated from the Korean by So J. Lee