Apr/May 2003 Poetry Special Feature


by Julie King



My sister put a furry caterpillar the size
of my thumb in the freezer chest. She wanted

to love him forever. I was mother not clerking
at the A & P
and father who didn't go to Korea

for the afternoon. Dad sent home photos of skulls
skewered on bayonets: The only good gooks...

Mom didn't trust me home alone. She's prone
to causing fire and cursing Jesus,
the sisters told

her, but everyone else was clerking or in Korea.
I named the caterpillar Gook. Gook gave my sister

hives big as crab apples. Her eyes blossomed
into peaches, her lips into overripe plums. She was

beautiful. She saw herself in the chrome freezer
handle and screamed. My nerves frayed into fireworks.

I dabbed bleach on each apple, tapped a butter knife
on each peach, and pressed the ice-solid caterpillar on

her splitting plum. She just batted at my hands, screaming
louder. Jesus, I said, now I have to call Mom at the A & P.

I burned the caterpillar to tarry bits, tied my sister to a chair,
and waited, the house filling with the bones of gooks.


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