Featured Flash: Yuri Han

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Hands

Yuri Han

 

There are red hands on her thighs again and she writes a poem.

Father is a bulletmaker

Mother breaks eggs and babies

Brothers hooded

There’s little biology to it

I am a poet

Summer is the worst time of the year for Rebecka because she has nowhere to go. There is nothing beyond the breaking and crumbling walls of the cabin-in-the-wood house she reluctantly calls home. During the school year, she has the school to run to when the house is unbearable for yet another time and when her parents say that words are “stupid little things” or something ignorant like that. She’s written many poems, but they were all infants, incomplete works of art she knows she’ll never continue. Rebecka hates the summer because she writes about rats and roaches, her mother’s pink body, her father’s prototypes, her brothers’ rotten hair and voices and beautiful eyes. She can’t help it. The curse is this: she draws inspiration from her immediate surroundings like the girl from the Bible does well-water. Rebecka believes that her poems are sick, toxic, and violent. Sick, toxic, and violent surround her.

 

“Rebecka, where are you?” Her mother’s walk across the living room sends the shack shaking. Rebecka hides her notebook and pretends to take an interest in her nails. There is dirt under them, and she’s disgusted.

“Yes. What do you want?” Her mother doesn’t respond and, instead, flips the skirt of her daughter’s dress up for her to see. Her gesture is violent and invasive. She traces the red hands with her treelike finger.

“Who gave you this?” she asks. Her eyes and nose move together like a broken mask. Rebecka watches a bead of sweat roll down the side of her mother’s face and wonders whether there is any soft left in her mother besides a mop of black hair and exhausted breasts.

Mother’s face is fire

Nun with fireface

I can feel the hellish

Heat of her moving

Fat and oil, and there

It is, behind her ear

A blind mole

“It’s nothing,” Rebecka mutters. She covers her thighs and guards the space from her mother’s stare. After a few moments of her mother’s breathing, three long men enter the room. Her brothers blend perfectly with the cracking gray walls. The same dusty hair, the same hand-me-down clothes, the same long arms and legs. Matthias is the oldest. His boots are covered in wet black earth and he has a dead animal in his hand. Then there’s Elijah. He carries his older brother’s bow and arrow. He rolled his sleeves to his shoulders and exposes an impressive ballpoint pen tattoo of the sun and moon. The youngest is Vermeer, born just a year after Rebecka and a head taller. He has a feminine face that regards Rebecka with a strange meanness. When the three of them dirty the floor with forest mud, Rebecka remembers her mother’s telling of birth—that the odd thing about the brothers was that they never screamed when leaving their mother’s red body.

Three Poems

Matthias, an oak man

Killed bird

Killed deer

Killed bear

It is never not hunting season

For the oldest

Elijah, a changing face

There is no true Elijah

Only the mask

That gives him

Matthias’s twigs

White-barked

With one thousand eyes

Vermeer, the willow

Made of softness

Hardened by his

Brothers’ sap

Mosquito frozen

In amber, already

 

The brothers are silent, but their eyes scream and howl. Rebecka watches them and they communicate through irises. Matthias’s eyes are blue, sapphire beauties Rebecka has always envied. Elijah’s are green like emeralds and sunlight through leaves. Vermeer’s is like frost, crumbling walls, and dust—gray and lovely.

 

Sapphire: writing, again?

Emerald: yeah, are you writing again?

 

Brown: yes.

 

Sapphire: words are useless.

Emerald: yeah.

Frost: yeah.

 

Brown: leave me alone.

 

Sapphire: you think you’re better than us?

 

Rebecka looks away and the red hands crawl their way further up her body, stinging like acid rain. Her mother heads towards the kitchen and calls for one of her children to let father know that dinner is ready. Rebecka looks at her brothers and they run upstairs, silently.

 

There is no difference between outside and inside in her father’s room. Tree branches break through moist wooden walls and the floor is like a river bank. There are so many bullets.

 

“Mom says dinner’s ready,” she says. She picks up a massive soft-point bullet the size of her palm. Her reflection distorted, she tries smiling.

 

Metal pills

Metal shelling and

Dark powder. His

Back arched over

Design and round

Things, cold eggs

Never hatching

 

 

Dinner sits inside Rebecka’s acidic stomach as the other girls dance around the fire, a raging red monster. Men and boys sit, weak bricks of dirt compressed underneath their heavy metal weights, and slap their drums, bored. Everyone has red hands now, painted on their thighs and crawling up their pale bodies to slap their bloodless cheeks.

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