Creationism by the 38th Parallel

Nadia Jo

The 38th Parallel is a common name for latitude 38°N roughly outlining the border between North and South Korea, chosen by U.S. Military planners in 1945.

Like Genesis, it begins with a body
                            of water.(1) Here, there are no boundaries: head/fission,
              throat/shockwaves, tongue/vapor. Like Genesis,
                                                                        it begins with a body.
                                                           The arm is removed from the shoulder socket,
              and I go on walking with my body drooping to one side.

                      After Hiroshima, people’s shadows were imprinted on the ground.
Which is to say, violence does not end with flesh rupturing;
       the body knows to translate trauma into silhouettes.
                                    Which is to say that in war,
                                                  messages are disseminated from the sky,

and people channel a response through their bodies.
                Like how broadcasts boom through radios
                             saying there is no war. We wedge our throats with promise,
                                                                                     muffle the pulsating fear.

I walk with a cavity in my shoulder
                          waiting to be filled. I walk with a mouth waiting to be drained,
             paranoia threatening to flood over teeth.
                                                         Until we see another’s mouth empty: bombers spitting above the
                                          border. A message written in splinters.

            After the rain, who will be left to gather my limbs?
What ground will be left to chart my body’s wailing? I imagine my ribs becoming
                             a shelter for all the wreckage,
and I imagine wearing my fear like a cape, pulling it so close over my backbone
                            it will cast a shadow over me and my arm
                                                                                    when the bomb flashes overhead.


1 Genesis 1:2 – “Now the earth was formless and empty... and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”



NADIA JO is a junior at Deerfield Academy. Her works have been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and the Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest, and they appear or are forthcoming in DIALOGIST, Souvenir Lit Journal, Blue Marble Review, Red Queen Literary Magazine, and Alexandria Quarterly. Nadia serves as a Poetry Reader for The Ellis Review and COUNTERCLOCK. A poetry mentee of Raena Shirali through the 2017 Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program, Nadia lives in South Korea. Read her rap blog at and watch cello performances at