Picture Bride

  • onOctober 30, 2014
  • Vol.25 Autumn 2014
  • byCathy Song
Picture Bride


She was a year younger
than I,
twenty-three when she left Korea.
Did she simply close
the door of her father’s house
and walk away. And
was it a long way
through the tailor shops of Pusan
to the wharf where the boat
waited to take her to an island
whose name she had
only recently learned,
on whose shore
a man waited,
turning her photograph
to the light when the lanterns
in the camp outside
Waialua Sugar Mill were lit
and the inside of his room
grew luminous
from the wings of moths
migrating out of the cane stalks?
What things did my grandmother
take with her? And when
she arrived to look
into the face of the stranger
who was her husband,
thirteen years older than she,
did she politely untie
the silk bow of her jacket,
her tent-shaped dress
filling with the dry wind
that blew from the surrounding fields
where the men were burning the cane?

copyright ⓒ Yale University Press

Author's Profile

Cathy Song is an Asian-American poet. She was born and raised in Hawaii and is of Korean and Chinese descent. She has long been considered as a poet who represents the passive beauty of East Asian culture and recalls tribal memory. Her first poetry collection, Picture Bride, is frequently regarded as the work of personalizing the process of female assimilation into American society.