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where i come from

CAS for Database

Esther Kim

Bethesda, MD

Holton-Arms School


this country  cracked open

months-old yogurt that’s fine, you’re fine

don’t throw away that bottle        weeks later, a flower vase

taekwondo    yes, ‘tae’ as in teddy bear

moonseed catching               our echoes                in the woods

hope             mother cups it like city lights

mouths that cannot be


swimming pools six feet underwater

naked streets beneath the lamplight              the lamp

beside our house, flickering

why did we leave?

reruns of “bill nye the science guy”

textbooks at dawn

creases on thin-skin knuckles that unzip

yun dong ju’s “prologue”      we all sing of some star

mustard and i are not synonyms

flatness         my face                     some words

nineteen and hate and hate

phone calls from one fractured country to another


Where I Come From nuances the Asian American narrative with something that is often left out: the fleeting moments between the emotional revelations. The true highlight is its unlikely blend of staccato and stream-of-consciousness structures, colouring the poem’s occasions with a muted profundity.

Esther Kim is a student at the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland. Her poetry has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, The Atlantic, and the Poetry Society of the UK. She will graduate in 2021.


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