Thursday, December 13, 2018

Singing the sun in flight

I was...raised with jeong, translated into a deep attachment, bond, and reciprocity for places, people, and things. Everything has meaning because I have jeong for it, and I was born of my parents’ jeong for me, and I fall in love with strangers because I have jeong for each of their unique, individual lives and experiences.
~E.J. Koh

Revisiting poems by the lovely E.J. Koh, plus a song:

by E.J. Koh

There is a Korean belief that you are born
the parent of the one you hurt most. Watching
my father use chopsticks to split chicken katsu,
he confesses that I may be the reincarnation
of his own father. We finish our waters in silence
and walk home chatting about who to blame
for where we are. He says, The present is the revenge
of the past. Revenge goes too far, I argue. And
in our unhappiness, we both want to know
we cannot pay enough. Pain becomes meaning.
After this life, I fear I’ll never meet him again.


by E.J. Koh

always sit in swivel chairs that won’t fit under low desks.
A fireplace log shifts
and the center leg of a table sinks without sound.
You can tell a ghost is here when the dog sniffs plaster walls,
or your left elbow itches, or windowpanes
bend where the sun hits.
Just now the staircase called out, old wood rasping.
A ghost has drifted in and he
settles like dust with nothing to gain or lose,
a sculpture in a museum—
until headlights cast beams across the ceiling,
bursting the shadows. If I say
ghost out loud, he will hover over the vacant seat at the table,
a voyeur from my past. No wonder
I enter my house like a visitor.


Ending with a Rainbow Girls song whose title (and a wee bit of the lyrics) come from Dylan Thomas' villanelle Do not go gentle into that good night:

Laura Shovan has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Laura!


Irene Latham said...

Oh wow, I am digging jeong and these poems! Loving the Rainbow Girls too. Thank you, dear Tab. xo

Linda B said...

Oh, their voices are beautiful, Tabatha. What a melancholy song, and the poems, too. I think I have a few ghosts in here with me, 'wood rasping'. Thanks for all!

jama said...

Thanks for the poems and music. Why have I never come across Koh's work before? Thought provoking . . .

Erin Mauger said...

Haunting poems, thanks for sharing them Tabatha...

author amok said...

"Father in His Old Age" speaks to me. I've been having and avoiding some difficult conversations with older members of my family. The tension is so difficult right now (in part political) -- the last line of the poem is my fear too.

KatApel - said...

I read this post last night - and am still thinking about 'Father in His Old Age'. So many layers...

Brenda at FriendlyFairyTales said...

So beautiful, the song, the thoughts of reincarnation, even with revenge as a theme. It's comforting to know that if we make mistakes, we can make them right in the next life. I would see it as an opportunity rather than a curse.

Michelle Kogan said...

Lots to ponder on in these poems–and perhaps there are ghosts among us. Gorgeous–soulful music from the "Rainbow Girls" I'll have to check out more. Thanks Tabatha.

Mary Lee said...

So much to think about. Maybe my choice not to have children will break one small chain of revenge?

Heidi Mordhorst said...

As always, something to sink spiritual teeth into here. We hear what is foremost in our lives at the moment, and I am gripped by the present, not the past, the son, not the father: was I
the parent of the one you hurt most"?