The Magic Sock

The magic sock fitted us all—엄마, 오빠, 언니 and me. No one knew where
it had come from, but we found it in the box of toys. It fit in the palm of
my hand. There was only one, and it was the colour of ripe tomatoes, like
my favourite snack: 엄마 sliced raw tomatoes and brown sugar sprinkled
over them like dandelion seeds. We used a fork to eat the tomatoes and
then passed the plate around, taking turns slurping the sweet water.

We took turns with the sock, too. We sat in a circle on the carpet in the
living room. In this house we only experienced summer and everything
was gold and dusty and warm. The sock was the brightest thing in the
room. First, it ate up 엄마's foot, which was pale and slender. In Korea,
a long, slim foot is called 칼발. She lifted that knife foot up and wiggled
it around, the red nylon catching the afternoon light. Then us kids tried
it on, from oldest to youngest: 오빠, 언니, then me. How could one tiny
sock fit us all? It was magic.

One day, when the others were off doing their own thing, I went to try
the sock on. I touched its shimmery skin and parted the lips. Suddenly
the sock whispered, 'Eunsun, what do you want?' I jumped a little and
rose onto my tippy toes. I glanced around the room, making sure no one
was there, and whispered back, 'Can you make me loved by everyone?'
And then I knew what to do. I put my right foot into the sock.

Later, 엄마 went to the kitchen to prepare an afternoon snack. I smiled
my broadest smile and she picked me up from the wooden bowl. She
popped me down on the chopping board, brought out a knife and began
slicing me from one side to the other. Then she spread me out on a plate
and began showering me in sugar. The crystals scattered onto my face,
pooled into my ears. I lay there smiling, shaking my head to gather all
the sugar I could.

Joanna Cho / 조은선's debut book, People Person, was published by Te Herenga Waka University Press in 2022 and is shortlisted for the 2023 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. She was the recipient of the 2020 Biggs Family Prize in Poetry, and was the 2022 summer writer in residence at the Robert Lord Cottage. She is currently writing a play called Geoff, the Chicken, with help from Proudly Asian Theatre's Fresh Off the Page initiative.


​Poem source details >



People Person at Te Herenga Waka University Press (2022)