7 am, morning dark by Stephanie Chang

My mother wakes up before anyone else
in the flat. She tells me it precedes her sometimes,

how her husband doesn’t live here anymore.

She’s sick with stomach pain again, chamomile mouth
unzipping saliva from gums. So my father takes my sister

and I out for home-style Korean. We laugh and
he bellows weightless, voice a scalloped silver

as yellow-bellied children find hideaway outside.
We don’t notice. We eat only hot things,

rice cakes and marbling red soup, stuff
without sharp edges. We avoid hard conversations,

the way my father likes it. My sister stops red-light
before we leave, says Ma is hungry, at home. 

My father doesn’t seem to know
what we are talking about: What home? Whose 

house but mine? He unfurls like an old sail,
calls her lazy, a flickering hole

in someone else’s history.

On the drive home, we say nothing. It’s
already dark again. On this horizon, it gets dark

too quickly too often. At home, my mother
languages a clot of lullabies into our throats,

her bright bathrobe clammy and formless.
And that night, my sister wonders how stitching

the seams of an ocean for someone
is counter-romantic, paradox lost in translation

or limbs, I add. About family: we know
our father will go for late-night sushi by himself

this Friday evening. Our mother will stir 7am
tomorrow, no matter what. They’re the same dark,

whispering I’m home I’m home I’m home I’m home


Copyright © Stephanie Chang. Selected as an honourable mention in the 2019 Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize, senior category.


Stephanie Chang is a seventeen-year old writer from Vancouver, BC. Her work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Cosmonauts Avenue, The Penn Review, The Berkeley Poetry Review, profiled in Persephone’s Daughters, and nominated for Best New Poets 2018. She was the Teen Winner in L’Éphémère Review‘s Writing Awards, a National Gold Medalist in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and recognized by the League of Canadian Poets’ Jessamy Stursberg Poetry Prize. Stephanie will attend the Kenyon Young Writers Workshop this summer.

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