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.
Revisiting poems by the lovely E.J. Koh, plus a song:
FATHER IN HIS OLD AGE
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!