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A Picture Only I Can See

by Seohyun Ryu

In the background, there is a plain beige color closet

doors are shut closed

the wallpaper of the room draws luscious red and white roses

focusing on the big bed in front of the background,

there are two sisters

the bed seems too big for tiny preschoolers

as the little sister is sitting criss-cross applesauce on the bed,

the older sister is brushing her lil sister’s hair with a thin brown comb

they both have long black silky hair

they both have matching pink power puff girls pajama onesies

they both shine a bright smile

their eyes gaze at each other

reflecting the subtle love for family

what I didn’t tell you is that

the person taking this very picture is a broken man

a broken man who fuses smoke that fills the room–

cigarette buds spark flames

he grew up in a deep dark attic of Seoul

his family fell apart after the “ cruel money party” that took place in 1997

a year after, he lost the only person who would brush his hair

growing to be obsessed with the word “family”

he grasped his daughters’ necks in fear

no one knew what he went through

because there were no proofs

there were no pictures

what I want to tell you is that

i am no longer a preschooler

but under the name of the father’s daughter

my sister would still sometimes talk into my eyes

and brush my hair.


Seohyun Ryu is passionate in connecting the study of language and storytelling through various forms of art.. She moved to California during her first year of high school from South Korea. Her works have been recognized by Outlander Zine, The 309 Collective, LA Youth Poet Laureate, and much more. She is currently working on her first book to make her childhood dreams come true.


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