Michelle Han

Beyond The 38th Parallel

On his own at only seventeen
Wondering about the naïve boy he’d once been
Dodging armed soldiers and their snarling watchdogs
Shivering, blind, in the frigid morning fog.

He left his family, his village, and then his homeland
In search of freedom and opportunity on foreign sand
He traded his glasses, grading, and opened doors
For blue uniform and mop to sweep school floors.

In his later years he gave us car rides and encouragement
Only to be met with one-word answers and resent
For our happiness and prosperity, he slipped through the ranks
But when, ever, did we show him our thanks?

His brief attempts at conversation
Shot down by my selfish preoccupation
If it weren’t for him I’d be living as a pauper
Why did I never think to say all this to my grandfather?


Copyright 2002-2008 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2008 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.