Published on Academy of American Poets (

Little Matrons

slumped in the crook of a nook, bereft

of lullabies and apple pie, playing duck duck

goose with my mind to find the smallest child

nested inside another then another until I

ring around the rosie back to myself. This

recess is cold. It’s like everyone vamoosed

to get to America first. Hello, what if we didn’t

want to go? All that’s left is an echo and a

banshee I hardly know. Some people say

hypnosis or past life regression therapy may

help, but I locked this chamber for a reason.

Ate the key. What is the shape of memory

that needs to be forgotten? Yet a voice keeps

calling: Let me out, let me out, let me out, let me


Copyright © 2022 by Su Hwang. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 24, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“For as long as I can remember, I can’t remember the first eight years of my life in Korea before my family immigrated to the United States in the early 1980s. Inspired by nesting dolls and the sonics of nursery rhymes, this sonnet is an attempt to reconcile a lost childhood and the lingering voices that reverberate from the wounded inner child in all of us—the persistence of buried trauma, along with the fear of peeling back layers of memory and their meanderings.”
Su Hwang


Su Hwang

Su Hwang is a Korean American poet and the author of Bodega (Milkweed Editions, 2019).

Date Published: 2022-01-24

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