Shawna Ervin

In the photo you are serious,
your lips slightly puckered
over one tooth, pink vest,
Easter-green sleeves, new silk
creased at your elbows, your belly.

Stripes of brightly colored fabric
measure your smallness, this birthday,
your first. You sit in your grandma’s chair,
legs straight out. The chair
dwarfs you, all we don’t yet know
about you.

The black hat sits lopsided
on your bald head, slips
over one eye. You seem comfortable
in the unexplained,
crawl to your future,
set out on a table. You look
at the brush, money, thread, rice,
choose the hammer.

You will be a craftsman,
able to build, repair. You
put the hammer
in your mouth. We take it
from you and laugh.
You cry, point.

It is yours, you,
who you will be,
who you already are.

(Note: A dol or doljabi is the first birthday in Korea, a large event similar to a bat mitzvah or quinceañera.)


Shawna is a Pushcart nominee and teaches writing workshops for both adults and children. She is a member of Lighthouse Writers Workshop and attended the Mineral School residency thanks to a fellowship from the Sustainable Arts Foundation. Recent publications include poetry in Tampa Review, Euphony Journal, Evening Street Review, Sweet: A Literary Confection, and elsewhere. Her poetry chapbook Mother Lines was published by Finishing Line Press.