John F Kennedy Ate My Aunt

WRITTEN BY YEJIN SUH

Musica universalis is the Music of the Spheres,
the religiosity of Ancient Greek scholars

towards the dance of celestial bodies
overlapping, echoing, spinning music,

a concentric clockwork of proportion too divine
for human ears. When I listen closely

I can never hear it, but I can hear
stellar revels, an Earth’s sorrows, lost things.

I confess to watching a single burgeoning star
in the sky and accepting its fate. I confess

to losing parts of my body in hungry travelers’
nooks, airports. I remember my father a digit splayed

across the intersection where we parted ways,
his polo like crimson crumbling under my fingers,

his thousands of eyes, pincers like saws. His flesh
near mine but already a decrepit ghost lingering

within old photographs. This quiet melody
halted when he cleared the gate: Boarding flight number

zero seven three octaves is there a resonance
for indefinite loss? A code? If I had looked

more closely, pressed my ear upon it, might
I have cracked it? Beat at it with all the vigor

of a wartime cryptanalyst matching letter
to number to note, barricaded beyond reasoning

and resistance? I couldn’t look him in the eyes,
not until I knew the signs or the motions to keep

someone in a static breadth of land, to say one thing
and mean another. I’ll see you in Paris, he said, in London,

up the Oratory. Years and years later. We’ll meet
as strangers, inconspicuous, humdrum visitors,

back to back aside the Mona Lisa, on opposite sides
of a park bench. Like the movies, except we won’t

be listening for a key to save the world, just
each other. A cipher simpler than Morse

and more grueling than Voynich to unravel
is the beating of a human heart to another

that hums a chord of its own, silent to everyone
but the closest. Now I can barely remember

if it was substitution or transposition, in his
language or mine, polyalphabetic or mono. I lost

the exacts, but a human head can save a tune for
centuries: LaGuardia consumed my father.

John F Kennedy ate my aunt. Newark Liberty
swallowed my grandmother whole and I lost them

to white forsythia and volcanic islands ringing
the Yellow Sea. I wait for them to signal me,

though their lights dim across oceans. I know
when my father knocks back a constellation or two

to intoxicating night air, he is drunk on galaxies
on the other side of the world. But I think

in the quiet of my nights and his early dawns,
we pause for poetic order—

We hear the Music of the Spheres.

Yejin Suh is a Korean-American student in New Jersey. She has been recognized by the Scholastic Awards. Her work appears in Crashtest Magazine, The Eunoia Review, and Just Poetry.

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