Hybrid: “Dear bear, poems” by Ae Hee Lee

                     Dear bear,

                     Yesterday, love died. She lied to us when she said she was an 
                     evergreen, turns out she’s plum. Her once taut hips, mush—a
                     tender crumbling of peel and oozing, overripe glucose. We
                     couldn’t stand the ascending stench anymore, so we buried her. 
                     Now, a blanket of oyster mushrooms covers the earth over her
                     smile. We visit them every day to fill a basket for dinner, so she
                     can still join us. The meals are not much different from before
                     she became deceased—except all sound has fled from our

                                                                                                                              tongues,

                     Dear bear,

                     You don’t understand because you always swallow before 
                     scenting your surroundings. Sorrow lives in a house forever in the
                     distance between two bodies, a house surrounded by curtains of
                     floral prints, skimming over a barren floor, a house hiding a 
                     couch with cushions intentionally lost, proactively protected from
                     dust, without succeeding. A house with a human hunch, faceless
                     and alive, quietly baking sweet potatoes covered in aluminum foil
                     within a fire’s stomach. The door isn’t locked; ghosts pass by, but
                     none notice nor desire until they smell

                                                                                                                  the siren-meal,

                     P.S.       I don’t fear loss because of the lost. I fear loss because it’s
                     mine. Am I allowed to mourn for it? When, even more than
                     those who have left me, all I can think of is myself, my loneliness?

                     Dear bear,

                     Last night, I gathered the spiny rooftops the pine trees had shed 
                     and made them my bed. The forest sent a sun, young as a yolk. It
                     hid behind a bone moon, but its voice seduced me with a secret
                     everyone knew. It crooned that the world would pull a blanket 
                     over my eyes sooner than I could say goodnight, that if I heeded
                     my light, quick eyelids, heard rain’s runny heartbeats, saw
                     lightning grin behind its black hair, if I spied the faraway night
                     hug its delicate knees as it hummed in the forest where sparrows
                     dart faster than the airplanes of old—it promised me, the sun
                     would slip into its gilded trail

                                                                                                                               slower,

                     P.S.       The forest exists, the forest exists, right? The forest. The
                     forest. I’m afraid to tell stories of the forest. Ghosts circle the
                     waters to take them away from me, never to give them back. But
                     when I shut my mouth, anemone flowers sprout out from my
                     lips, and it hurts it hurts to cut their heads off. Who can tell me
                     what to do with all my love? Where can it go if not to the forest?
                     What does everyone else do with their love? What crossroad do
                     they abandon it to? What changeling do they trade it for?

About Ae Hee Lee

Author photo of Ae Hee Lee (portrait) of the author smiling with a bright blue sky and trees behind her.

Born in South Korea, raised in Peru, Ae Hee Lee currently lives in the United States. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks: Bedtime || Riverbed (Compound Press 2017), Dear bear, (Platypus Press 2021), and Connotary (Bull City Press 2021), which was selected as the winner for the 2021 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. Her poetry can be found at Poetry Northwest, The Georgia Review, and New England Review, among others.