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Slathered Aloe


cracked, dry hands like asphalt,
each breath drawing air from a wet harmonica; 

this isn’t the world she knew so

             i’m changing it. that twin-sized lower bunk bed 

with shade obscuring her vision; i’m pulling it by the 

covers and upturning the metal rungs. instead
let’s plaster the walls with photos
of her glossy youth. as her thighs sigh deep
into silk covers that finally complement
the room’s decor, i melt into
the past and i’m giving her a husband
who speaks her language, at the very least he doesn’t 

throw fists across the room

i’m giving her a husband

who doesn’t uproot her every origin and instead 

draws forth tradition, each fleshy petal
of the onion breaking apart
in clumps. i watch from the closet of an alien

as the two question each other in familiar dialect, bringing the

volume to a crescendo in a rhythmic synergy. the air tastes

             like static. their eyes, wide like newborns, pool

from the acrid tang of axillary bud because sometimes 

             It’s better to share the same roots. here

smells of gochujang and seolleongtang waft through the 

house, foods she missed because

             we’re korean but only in blood and we like
pasta and chinese-takeout. here childhood friends and 

familiarity paint the sky in soft shades of dawn. and although 

her hands are now soft without slathered aloe,
her spine without specter pains

             as my eyes trace the foreign marks 

stretched across her abdomen,
i gasp for new lungs

for what a wonder it is
            to choose one happiness over the other.

Ariel Kim is a high school Junior from Jericho, NY, and a proud Kenyon Review YWW alumnus. She is the Editor-In-Chief of her school’s award-winning literary magazine, PEGASUS, a journalist for DOGO News, and an intern for the Adroit Journal. Her writing has been recognized by SMFA at Tufts, The New York Times, Interlochen, NCTE, The Apprentice Writer, Just Poetry!, TeenInk, and more. Ariel is also a double National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Medalist in Novel Writing and Poetry. Her art has been awarded by Celebrating Art, the National PTSA, and the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Ariel created The Incandescent Review to create a platform for teens everywhere to share their voice on relevant and timely global issues. When she isn’t writing or drawing, Ariel loves watching foreign films, fencing, and curating Spotify playlists to the point of obsession.

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