The Unwanted Fortune

The last time I walked down this path a shaman came up to me

& said I can tell you have suffered in every lifetime. I had prayed it wasn’t

always like this. That once, in some other unknown reincarnation,

I would have gazed at the world and thought it to be large & forgiving

& yes, because of this, worthy of all attention. That I would have gone

to the corner store bodega & bought the $1.49 can of coca-cola, drank in

the carbonation like a gifted breath. That I would have birdwatched by the lake,

twisting & fashioning my arms in angled imitations of flight. That, like the cows

grazing on the Virginian plains, I would have befriended the mortal & mangled

dirt, have had no lover’s name stitched onto the sky, each decayed cell, now,

a dimming star. All I wanted was to once be a part of such innocent elation,

but what does it take for a sadness or a God to look at a soul and wish it

to be deserving of a purer life? What am I, stranger, allowed to ask for beyond

this whittled body. My two feet stepping on the old earth. My sullen eye tilted

to the ground as if nature held every remembered shame, only the fallen leaves

spared from the grime of grieving.


Sun Paik is a former Levinthal Scholar and recipient of the Chappell-Lougee Scholarship. She currently spends her time between Seoul and San Francisco.