Franny Choi

Bedtime Story

Outside, cicadas threw their jagged whines into the dark.
             Inside, three children, tucked in our mattresses
flat as rice cakes against the floor. Pink quilts,
             Mickey Mouse cotton –
why is it that all my childhood comforts
             turn out to be imperialism’s drippings?
I was suckled on sugar cane, plague songs.
             My mother swaddled our soft bodies
in all the warmth a long day’s work in America could spare.
             New world love, wrung from her heart-rag,
heating her hands from the bones, heating our bodies,
             teaching them how to be loved.
Outside, crickets gnawed all the way through their tongues.
             A perfect memory. It was night, and my mother loved us
and most of my clothes were stitched by slaves.
             At school, I sang the names of génocidaires.
Years later, my father thought himself conquistador.
             Searched for new soil, and found it. Years later,
my mother decided for the last time
             not to leave.

Franny Choi is the author of Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing). She has been a finalist for the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship and multiple national poetry slams. Her work has appeared in Poetry, PANK, and others. She is a VONA Fellow, a Project VOICE teaching artist, and a member of the Dark Noise Collective.