This is How the Body Knows by Soon Jones

This is How the Body Knows | Soon Jones


i was so tired and i ate like shit and i
stopped exercising and come Christmas 2019
my jeans fell off my ass with my belt
buckled on the last hole. 
after abandoning a decade of 
      diets      calorie math    measuring tape
i had suddenly lost thirty pounds 
in two months. i was 
scared. i kept it secret, wore 
the same baggy clothes,  
hiding my shrinking self  
from myself. if i never  
said it out loud, 
it wouldn’t  
be real 

this is how the body knows: 
i shaved my head at the beginning 
of the outbreak because it felt right 
chicago had shut down around me 
the cars were finally off the roads 
and the streets were so 
                                      loud, everyone 
speaking full volume on the sidewalk 
truly seeing each other, seeing me 
in all the stock photos and B Roll footage used
whenever the news discussed rising cases 
                            man i’ve never been so represented 
                            in media my entire life
every five o’clock story 
another yellow grandmother  
                        beaten, another young woman 
                        pushed onto the tracks. nothing
brings out the asian in my mixed eyes more
than a paper mask. 
i stopped             taking the train. 
i wore                  dark sunglasses  
even on cloudy days, 
inside grocery stores. i can’t relate 
to my fellow far easters born here 
who say they never knew 
they were yellow until college 
when i was born knowing how quick a slur is
to the roof of a white mouth

                                               how fast their selfish, raging hands 
                       to our flesh. this is how 

the body knows: 
(for twenty-seven years i have replayed 
my mother fold into a casket 
behind my eyelids, flat 
chested, billowing black cloud of hair 
now frayed threads 
eyes sunken and purple 

          i can still feel her embalmed skin 
          like vinyl, like rubber, like your stomach 
          rushing up from your feet into your throat) 

everyone says ‘cold dead hands’ 
but they’re only slightly below 
room temperature  

(and i say to her 
they cut you and they stitched you up  
with poison, ridiculed when you said 
it was back. we wept together 
in your guardrail bed 
begging every god and angel 
for you to live past thirty-five 
and none of it worked) 

This is how the body knows: 
on the first New Year’s of the pandemic 
while lying in bed,  
I heard my mother’s ghost whisper 

                                              Isn’t it past time 
               you did a self-exam

I found one lump. 
The ultrasound identified three. 
The biopsy confirmed.

Soon Jones is a Korean lesbian poet from the rural countryside of the American South, and writes for the same reason they breathe. Their work has been published in Westerly, beestung, Juke Joint, and Moon City Review, among others, and can be found at