FEATURED POEM: MEE OK ICARO, Winner of the Prufer Poetry Prize


Mee Ok Icaro reads “otherland”
they find her shivering stained t-shirt over wild bare legs 

	in an alley      my mother’s body in the shape 

of unknown food chewed     by a scatter of teeth

	I never saw her mud-matted fishing-wire hair but

my brother offers to send me the picture he took of her when

	he showed up like a heart attack that day that 

gathered into years when she was

	lost     a child with the senior’s special

schrödinger’s mom     dead (not dead)

	her missing body chiseled to ice under a bridge every time 

it snowed     No     I hear myself say     leave me 

my memories of her before she ate dumpsters without underwear 

	spare me the mouth that once spun my lullabies 

when she was all bare-footed earth-skulled lunulae

	I have so little     little girl in me left

my mother knew my name the one she gave me

	talked to me same as her father gone ten years now

seen him last week in her ceiling

	I need to tell grandpa the birds     oh I forget their names

		are waiting for their packages of weather

	and string and blue china dishes     the ones we use on

		easter      he knows the one

I am with you now, mother, feeding you five cheese ziti from olive garden while 

	a woman frothing at the head rocks and screams     your broken 

stare     two eyes two punched out windows     one for each vanished son

	you hallucinate     the only way to get them to visit you

ice in my sockets melting down my cheeks I leave you in a confusion 

	happier than truth punch the code steel doors open leads to the first 

thread of hallways past motionless wheelchairs bouquets of piss 

	neurotic light bulbs flickering dark     in this cement palace

where you will die in the corner next to a phone that never rings

	a folder squeezing a single slip of paper with my name 

date and time in small handwriting that proves

	that yes, mommy              I saw you

a woman in muted scrubs asks me if I am your daughter 

	tells me you are her favorite that you write me letters 

backwards in the swatch of window near your bed 

	because     you say     I live in the tree outside your forever room 

you write to me like a child on a fogged car window     messages 

	to a passing stranger speeding down an unpainted 

highway because grandpa visits you in the sky 

					                             but I,

						                               I live in your tree

Mee Ok Icaro is an award-winning literary prose stylist and occasional poet. She is the winner of the inaugural Prufer Poetry Prize, runner-up in the Prairie Schooner Creative Nonfiction Contest, and a finalist for the Scott Merrill Award for poetry as well as the Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction. Her writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in the LA Times, Boston Globe Magazine, Georgia Review, Massachusetts Review, Bennington Review, River Teeth, Michael Pollan’s “Trips Worth Telling” anthology, and elsewhere. She is also featured in [Un]Well on Netflix and is attempting to write a memoir. Find her at Mee-ok.com.

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