Cindy Juyoung Ok
Photograph by Victor Clime on Unsplash

to me when someone who hurt me writes asking how he might make

amends. Delighted by the idea that I am being vindicated, I agree

to meet, noting the face I knew looks younger as he reads a catalog


of harms against me, most of which I have not been aware of, beyond,

yes, his periodic yelling or threatening, the marring of my home. Power

sifts between us as our bodies, too, shift. Item: he lied in rants to


damage my career. Item: at a party he grimaced and gestured to embarrass

me. I, too, had been young, had wanted what I assume he wanted: safety,

desire, maybe transformation. I had begged him to wear a coat in snow,


stand away from the lake’s edge, joke at a bar instead of wrestling

friends and strangers. I from earthquakes and he from hurricanes,

we were trained to prepare in parallel ways: avoiding aftershocks, live


power lines, other crisis chains. Fault is trivial but if on the night he talked

fast and faster and faster, I had recognized the folding words, not cried on

a couch, would he— It is effortful to forgive, effortful to remember.

Cindy Juyoung Ok is the author of Ward Toward (Yale University Press, 2024) and teaches creative writing at Kenyon College.