Thursday, October 25, 2007

The first time I ate Korean food--
My first bulgogi, my first pajeon--
Was in an Edinburgh flat,
A surprisingly appropriate place;
Though I was born in Seoul,
My heart belongs to the Scottish hill country,
My mind to the Texas coast,
My name to a family of white American Euromutts.

A fellow student, her name was Hyun-Sook,
Invited me for lunch one weekend,
And over the food she knew,
The flavors of our shared roots,
We spoke of Christmases past and future,
How my family always has Tex-Mex
And hers feasts on fried chicken--
We, the incongruous daughters of globalization.

But we were mostly quiet,
Whether because of emptiness of stomach or of language,
Letting the food speak for itself,
Letting the bad K-pop music speak for itself,
Letting our silence speak for itself.
Two Korean women a long way from home,
The shared bond of loneliness and heritage and chopsticks
Making us feel, if only briefly, like family.

And so when I left, I told her
The only Korean I know:
Kamsa hamnida. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

an advent meditation

through four hundred years

ever since the man called messenger
put down his pen after asking the people
who could abide the day of the Lord's coming
they had waited for that fire
to come refine them
and heard only the whispers of the wind
on a land still rebuilding and being rebuilt

and the wars came and they burned oil
all through the nights praying for the day to come
(like watchmen wait for the morning
like watchmen wait for the morning)
and all they heard was the loud silence of God

and for long years of marriage the old endured
the quiet of an empty house, an empty womb

and for long years of life the old creaked
their bones toward the temple to pray

and for long years the young rose up to fight
except for two who said "we will go down to bethlehem"

after four hundred years the old brought forth a voice
after four hundred years the new gave birth to Word
silence broken by the small cries of a prophet and a King