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  • Saint Korea 1839
  • Alexander Chee (bio)

Peter Yu Tae-chol

thirteen fast runner two men catch him
hold him down in the road another stands over
him takes the arms off the cross on his rosary
snaps them off one by one drops the pieces on his
chest    what is a disfigured cross? riddle for
one second
a square
We will do this to you the one says just say you
will give up this cross

small but strong boy ran when they chased him nearly escaped says nothing his brows knit they all take turns and beat him    say you will say you will still he says nothing so the one begins by breaking both his arms with his sheathed sword and then draws it and cuts the right arm of at the break he screams at the bone breaks but says no actual words scream for the arm is so loud it doesn’t seem like his voice stares at the arm afterward across from him in the road so quick he has the urge to reach for it but with the same arm that sits there he
almost laughs at this but says nothing doesn’t have an answer for them they turn him on the other side sword comes down sound like plates breaking he grunts chop again one cut not enough for that arm they kick him onto his back the one who broke his cross meets his eyes [End Page 153] staring why Peter asks finally crying so quickly it isn’t tears just water you give this up, and we let you live
        he sees his arms in the road blood
        trails from them to him across the
        dirt as if the blood were trying to get
        back to him you aren’t going to stop
        now he says you can’t fool me
they turn and hold his torso in place break each of his legs he screams long snapping-bones sound comes the scream breaks also with second leg and then pain like a black hood he can’t breathe through
wakes his legs in the road with his arms and the men covered in his blood two sit back on the side don’t need to hold him down anymore blade at his throat surprises him not done, he tells himself see
        this god swordsman tells him he can’t save
        you can’t save me Peter says can still feel
        his arms and legs and inside him he moves
        inside something vast as sky looks at the one
        holding the sword to his throat he spits his
        own blood at the swordsman’s face
        sword rises
they pile the pieces of him in the road [End Page 154]

Alexander Chee

Alexander Chee was born in Rhode Island and raised in South Korea, Guam, and Maine. His first novel, Edinburgh (Picador, 2002), was a winner of the Michener Copernicus Prize, the Asian American Writers Workshop Literature Award, and the Lambda Editor’s Choice Prize, and was a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year and a Booksense 76 selection. He has taught fiction and nonfiction writing at the New School University, Wesleyan, Amherst College, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the University of Leipzig.



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pp. 153-154
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