I found this prose piece while cleaning out our closet. I had written it in response to a prompt I had given to my high school students when teaching from House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. Probably in the spring of 2008.
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My father’s eyes have always been soft and kind. They peer out from behind his large framed glasses, curious and amused by the stories I tell. His eyes laugh and dance at the sight of his children. His eyes are love, remembering when I was just a baby taking my first step, saying my first word and watching me grow up to become a woman who shares his love for teaching and for praying.
My mother’s eyes have become soft like my father’s. They were once hard and sharp the way cliffs are violently jagged. When we were children and she was a young mother buckling underneath the stress of living in a strange new country, she would get mad. With a snap of the fingers, with a blink of an eye, her anger would flare, and she would hit us with little warning as we cowered in fear. She would bite her lower lip until it turned white, and her eyes became tight black stones. But now my mother’s eyes are new, likes babies born and crying. Her rage is gone, the hardness of her eyes shattered, and what’s left of her eyes is quiet surrender.
When I visited home in Korea, I went with her to morning prayer at an hour when the sky was still dark and the air so cold we had to wrap our heads with thick scarves. I sat beside her as she rocked back and forth praying aloud to God in the language of desperation and deep thanksgiving, her eyes overflowing with tears. In the stillness of hushed mornings, her eyes become oceans that move mountains and carry me–her daughter, her first child who watches her and begins to forgive her.