Friday, September 5, 2014

Poems from Korea

4 sept 2014

EARLY CHUSEOK

watching moonrise
as i eat brown rice and lentils
metal chopsticks tap on porcelain

waxing before my eyes
invisible to my north american friends
who doze in the thirteen hour lag

my moon glows
as your sun rises
i picture lamb’s quarters and queen anne’s lace
in the unmowed section of the field street garden
waving in the pink light

undeterred by clouds and bars on the first floor window
i soak up rays of the virgo moon
it washes away the vague sense of shame
which is a korean birthright
internalized confucianism
distorted into the guilt of not-having-done-enough
for abandoning my nation at the height of occupation
for losing my tongue to speak
the language of the colonizer

this is the season of self-forgiveness
in the generous glow 

of an early harvest moon


2 sept 2014

dozing on and off over dialectics
of being korean
and not

i am most integrated in air element
soaring above overheated
pacific ocean

how am i like
the ajumma flight attendants
and how not?

my hair is not permed and dyed black
i drape my bare feet rudely
in window ledges and seat arms
bunch up my skirt
so i can take my knees wide

but when my feet land on soil
i cannot help remembering
i come from revolutionary stock
impassioned and disciplined
who march in phalanxes into tear gas
and set palanquins on fire
who hunger strike for weeks
to willingly embrace the vulnerability
that connects them to the suffering
of the world

i’ve crossed the ocean
to shed yet another
colonized layer
to come down from yet another perch
of american privilege
where i could gaze from afar
and pretend the the children on the sewol ferry
had nothing to do with me
or that the lawsuit filed by the women
enslaved by their own government
for sex with american soldiers
were in fact not my mothers and aunties
being fucked by no one i know

i could insist it all happened in the past
as if the past
could be encapsulated like nuclear waste
never to harm us again
ha!

i could pretend time is linear
and not spiraling
i could numb myself with shopping
and gorge myself on waffles and iced coffee

but instead i am groggy with uncertainty
embarrassed with ignorance
tongue wrapped around broken korean
i squint at newspapers
that only leave me more confused
and remind me
that every healing crisis
begins with an aggravation of symptoms

i wait for it to get worse
before it gets better





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