after the Korean folktale, “The Fox Sister”
Rebirth: a trail of felled horses
making a ribbon of blood through the hills.
Rice steam curling into the corners of the kitchen, and death
just outside the door. No one believes their heir
could be a changeling. What is a daughter but a demon, a word
to wake you sweating in the night when she wanders into the forest
alone. What is daughter. What is a girl who devours
what she is given until it is not enough. Until every grin
is fanged, every laugh forced from the lean lungs
of a predator ready to tear her way into satiety.
Betrayal falls fast as the rain—the moment
a daughter sets foot into the trees, understands she exists
beyond her parents’ sightline, is the moment
she rips into their bodies. She emerges with a new appetite.
Do not be troubled, this will pass like clear water that bursts into streams
and tumbles down the mountain, just to be pulled back to the sky
to fall again. Temptress, sister, victim—the daughter
wears names like nine tails, each a site of loss.
A daughter cannot drown, her hollowed form adapts too quickly
to the motions of swimming. She must be met with flames.
You shouldn’t, but you look back, having ignited her:
through blossoming trees to the scorched clearing, watching for a sign
that what you learned was vicious might be only a starving thing,
coat burning up with generations of sparks.
Megan Kim is a poet from Southern Oregon, currently enjoying Midwestern lakes. Her work has appeared in The Rumpus, Hobart, and the AAWW's The Margins, among others. She is an MFA candidate in creative writing at UW–Madison and a reader for Palette Poetry. • Photo by Grace Kim