Listener Lyric

The lyrical essay was the most fun I’ve had in English for all of high school. In my opinion, lyrical essays are the new creative non fiction. Lyrical essays brings together all forms of writing and lets the reader relive a memory or a concept in perfect junction.

Sorry: A Conversation

“Well, do you have anything else to say?”

Yes, matter of fact. You have so much to say. “It’ll take too long.”

“Well, I’ve got time.”

Sitting there, your eyes well up, an influx of indescribable colors cascading in your heart, guilt aching the cogs of your slowly rusting Clock. 

You want to say it.

How, when you landed in the Great Belly of the Beast, instead of feeling that Hope they say you will feel in those movies and commercials, you feel a sort of Dread and Weariness.. Apprehension. That’s it. 

How, when you first arrived at your uncle’s house, instead of the warm welcome you expected, you got a sit down: the rent, where you were going to sleep, where you were going to do your laundry. 

How, when you grew up in Korea, you never had much. Being the youngest out of three, everybody always counted you out, but you never backed down from anything. 

You wish you could tell the story of when your oldest sister got shouted at by one Boy, that you marched over from the courtyard and pushed him to the ground, and when the first words he said to you were, “Tell your sister to stop being a bitch,” you stomped on his ankle.

Or, whenever He beat up your mother, you were the one to go into work for her, lying, lying, always fucking lying about why your mommy was out, you were the one to shout back at Him, and no matter how many times He hit you, you stood back up, ‘Fuck you.’ 

How, you never cried in front of people because you couldn’t afford to be weak.  

How, your pride was stripped as you sat there at the table and didn’t question the conditions: A small garden shed filled with dirt in the backyard, $200 a month, Santa Clara Launderland. 

As they kept on saying, “In America, this is how it is,” you couldn’t help but question if sleeping in a garden shed fell into “This is how it is.”

How, a few months later, it was your first year wedding anniversary with your strong, strong husband, and as a “courtesy” They let you sleep on the couch. And as We curled up on that small couch, you Cried. Cried like you hadn’t since your wedding day. 

You wish you could talk about the reason why the loud, abrasive, Aunt Wang will always be the one person you can trust. 

How, one day during class at the English adult school, when seeing the bites from the bugs in that garden shed, she forced you to tell her about your living conditions, to which she slammed her phone to the ground, ran out the room, and got a speeding ticket driving over to your aunt and uncle’s house.

And although you don’t know what she said, all you know is that when you went to go pick up your things to move in with Aunt Wang temporarily, They wouldn’t look you in your eyes. 

How, when September 11, 2001, in your apron at the sushi restaurant as you watched the news anchor cry and scream about the Buildings on Fire, the guy you were serving breaking down because his brother was in that Building, all you could ponder about was how you were going to make $600 in one day to pay rent, what you were going to do about The Miracle in your stomach, what bus you were going to ride to your next job. And even now, when you think about that day you still can only remember the Despair you felt worrying about these things.

How, even to the moment the Miracle was extracted into this Horrible, Horrible World, you were planning on sending Him to Korea, until you and your Love could make enough money, because you could not even imagine a life for a baby where the mother and father could not even provide their Time and Love.

How, in that moment The Baby started crying because the world was so cold and loud, the River was unleashed inside, and you could not breathe as you wailed into the night, “I can’t do it! I can’t do it!” And as your Love held you and the Baby, you felt Love and Peace at magnitudes you had never felt, and all you knew is that it felt so, so right. 

Now you sit at the table, the overhead light slowly swinging back and forth like a monkey on a vine. 

“Did you have anything else to say?”

And as you look at The Not-So-Baby across the table, you feel an ache in your heart. It seems as if it had been yesterday that He was The Baby, sitting there quietly in the garage every night, waiting for his Mother and Father to come, to hold him, telling him everything was all right. 

That he was in the 1st grade, always careful to not ask for anything because He knew. 

As he looks at you with Concern on his face, you can’t help but smile with Tears in your Eyes, and laugh. And as that Sadness evolves, you feel It grow in you. 

You open your mouth. 


This essay was fairly easy to write. I had a super long conversation with my mother, who immigrated to the United States in 1999, and only two years later gave birth to me. Our family’s struggle and hardships only made our rise even higher and now we are in an exponentially better situation than we were 18 years ago.