How about adopting a fully grown girl? Says a broken-headed doll. The dyed-black lace flaps. Talks with its mouth shut. I wonder, mutters a broken-armed doll, arms crossed. Wire showing through the puff sleeve. A girl can’t be fully grown. A girl hasn’t grown, won’t grow. The broken-headed doll and the broken-armed doll talk. Not the girls I’ve seen, anyway. In the abandoned box, earnest ventriloquism continues. Even though at the time we could move our phenomenal bodies outside the box. Every time we speak, pieces of plastic fall from the head, from the arms. When they adopted us, the girls named us. Remember? A name is a name if we remember. The broken-headed doll’s lashes quiver. Damn. What am I supposed to remember with half a head? Someone steps on the wire sticking out of the box. The left-tilting doll’s arms are a mess. If I could cuddle you with my one arm. If I could inch closer to you by coming undone. Girls gather in the alley and talk, not moving their lips. It’s possible if you clench your stomach, as though to keep from crying. A conversation so quiet that it’s beyond anyone’s understanding unless someone writes it down. The girls come here and talk like dolls, pausing their growth. Touch one another’s heads, dress one another’s arms in gauze. What was your name? The girls look into the box. Try to put together the broken joints. They fall apart. We should have adopted ourselves from the start. Ever since we were born, there hasn’t been a good opportunity. The girls peer into the broken mirror where words have gathered in a cabinet. By exchanging looks, they have a conversation.

Lee Young-ju

Lee Young-ju is the author of the poetry collection Keep No Record of Any Kind of Love (Moonji Publishing, 2019), Cold Candy (Moonji Publishing, 2014), Sister (Minumsa, 2010), and The Hundred-and-Eighth Man (Munhakdongne, 2005). She is the recipient of the Arts Council of Korea's literature and creative writing grant and the Creativity Award Fellowship from the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture. She teaches at Myongji and Kyung Hee University and lives in Seoul, South Korea.

Jae Kim

Jae Kim is a writer from South Korea and a translator of Korean and Japanese literature. His short story "South of Here" was recently published in NOON. He was the winner of the Poems-in-Translation Contest by American Academy of Poets and Words Without Borders, judged by Mónica de la Torre. His translations have appeared in Poetry Review, Asymptote, and Azalea, and some are forthcoming in Lana Turner. He holds an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as Junior Writer-in-Residence and is currently in the international writers' program.