draw a map of home

The summer I spent in an airless classroom, the windows thrown wide did little. Nothing moved, no breeze. We held our breath.

She said: Draw a map of home, but I could not remember the shape of things. I drew a flat tree. I drew a path from one door to another. I drew a man, sitting in the front seat of his car, smoking a cigarette. There were coins on the sidewalk, dull discs.

My daughter was gone for the summer. I wrote her letters I would never send. This is the way it was with us: All silence and mute longings. Afraid that to name love would suffocate love. Afraid that to name grief was to draw a path to a place from which we could not return.

I dug a garden bed. Planted hardy things. Stalks rose from the dark, hot earth. My knees ached. Callouses bloomed on my palms. My hair smelled like dirt.

In the news all summer: exhumations. I am not making this up.

I left for the shore. Sulked there for days. It rained. I swallowed sand. In the mornings, I ghosted by the water’s edge in gray mist. The foamy sea cooled my skin.

When I returned, there was a postcard from my daughter. She was with her father, who had taken her to visit his parents. Yesterday, we ate ice cream two times! A drawing of a cat. Of an ice cream cone.

I take her plastic bowl and spoon and set it at her place on the kitchen table. Then, I put it back.

Two bodies dug up in one week. A woman whose daughter is claiming that her mother was murdered by her lover.

And another, murdered in her bed while she slept. They need tissue from the child she was carrying in her womb.

In the airless classroom, the instructor says: Make a timeline of all the important events of your life. Go back as far as you can remember.

I do not remember the 18-hour flight from Seoul to New York City, but I am told that when I landed, there was snow. It was late March, an unexpected storm. Just enough to slick the roads and swirl in the wind.

We drove through the blue night as snow billowed and drifted. The flat sky a dull sheet of memory without stars.