Testimony: Kim Sang-hi

Emily Yoon

I was 14 years old       It was around November 26th
            It snowed, I remember.  I was on my way home 
from the photo-studio with my portrait            when a man in olive-drab clothing 
grabbed me by the collar      cursed in Japanese       was he Japanese 
            or Korean        I could not tell
I was thrown onto a truck       of mournful sounds of weeping 
            these girls and I         crossed the border into China    
there was no poison to kill myself with           no ropes to hang myself from 
In Suzhou        I was #4        I was Takeda Sanai
            The first night an officer grabbed my body
I spotted a glass bottle              drank   disinfectant 
            but I didn’t die
In Nanjing        I had malaria    
            appendicitis     hemorrhage in my vagina
            but I didn’t die 
In Singapore I saw      dark-skinned men      digging ditches
            they looked    at us    as if they would burst into tears
In Singapore the war ended 
            we boiled leaves from trees and wild greens
            we ate this to survive
When I made it back to Pusan Harbor
            I went to my brother’s house in Taegu
in his dream: I had shaved my head           was drowning in the ocean
            but I didn’t die
My name is Kim Sang-hi 
I was born on December 20, 1920
I was born into a good family 
I am a Catholic
I should forget and forgive                   but I cannot
When my head turns toward Japan     I curse her 
            I want to find solace                 but I cannot
When I wake up every morning           I cannot