It is only a kitchen, but here too, there is conjuring
beyond the hazed flush of another day languished
over ox tail broth, lambs quarters sagging in oil,
rock hen baeksuk raising cries from the pot.
Your Mother eases soy from their skins,
reminds you here, all are orphans.
Bring the spoon to your lips, taste the salt of hands
gone. Accept this mouthful. Though it singes,
it will carry you far.
Call it lineage,
we are born with
Your mother balking
in the schoolyard
the sky, a tea steeped Autumn.
White rice lunch pails,
sesame stench unforgivable,
the seaweed sheets too green,
and she, mangling phonemes.
When the boys drive her face
to blacktop, she won’t cry out.
This language will not open for her.
And farther still,
your grandmother whittled
to core. But this winter is giving,
her tree throws down some oranges.
A meek offering she seizes, peeling it
with her teeth. The fruit is not sweet,
pulp pebbled from rot, it’s gone too quick.
She is left with just her body,
an excavation site. This famine,
the sharp angles of her elbows, her clavicle
a reservoir for rain. The war has not begun.
It stands on the mouse trap horizon
unhinges its jaw