by Mike Yim
1st Place: Flash 405 November 2015, “Roots”
How beloved words come originally foreign.
How we kick and learn and babble and suckle.
Ma is so interesting: mom, um-ma, maman, mama, mama;
all nations are brothers. Most prosperous Venus of Willendorf,
fat ginseng root, treasure of every house all around.
Mike’s poem was one of the first things I read, but it stayed with me. Perhaps because the historian in me loves Venus of Willendorf/fat ginseng root—or perhaps because he’s sneakily snuck in two different interpretations of ‘roots’—but mostly I love this because in the tiny space of this tiny poem, there’s the vastness of the entire human race, of our origin story. I’ve read this so many times already; I hope everyone else enjoys this as much as I do.
Mike Yim is a student attending Santa Margarita Catholic High School in California. His awards include Scholastic Art and Writing Award, a national recognition in Live Poets Society’s National High School Poetry Contest, and Save the Earth Poetry Prize. His works are published by or forthcoming from Live Poets Society, DIAGRAM, The Cadaverine, BRICKrhetoric, Canvas, and elsewhere.