Jihyun Yun | Two Poems

War Soup

Ingredients

  • Pork belly
  • Anchovy Broth
  • Glass noodles
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Spam
  • Hot pepper paste
  • Kimchi
  1. In eight cups of boiling water, add dried kelp and anchovy, soaked shitake mushrooms and onion tops to make a broth. Grind four cloves of garlic together with hot pepper paste, soy and sugar for seasoning. Set the mixture aside for later.
  2. Onion carpeted in pork fat and rice wine flared, very briefly, an ignited landscape. Then sun-dried pepper flakes staining the oil, a sundry of roots tossed in at rough dice, zucchini cut to half-moons, halved and quartered heads of kimchi. The stock should not disappoint, heavy with anchovy and odd bits. Set it all to boil, no witness, low heat.
  3. We’ve not long been able to afford this: life giving flesh, singed wire hair that remembers outhouse and apple core. The fat, its own horizon studded over pink meat, cartilage wedged there where the muscle gathers. Cut the slabs into mince, light those dented pots.
  4. Oh family
    I left behind in the north,
    do you live as I slice these greens,
    have they given you to sea?
  5. Then Spam, more tofu than animal, cut to cubes. Say, we made do with what we did. At the bases, the Americans gave cans of beans or meat. We weren’t picky, boiled it all with weeds and scraped carcass. We called it Johnson-tang, rejoiced like we’d never again need to eat, as if the miles were no real thing. Now chili, now green onion sprigs.
  6. The northern village of my birth, a storm crushed window. The gaunt faces of my people parade the TV screen; dear lord, dear leader.
  7. Let the glass noodles wilt
    over broth just before serving.
    At the table, over kerosene flame,
    three generations tend to the pyre
    that feeds and feeds.

What a blessing,
to have passed through hunger.
I will teach my daughters
to bare their palms.
………….I will teach them how to beg.

.

.
Immigration II

For S.J.L

As the chrysanthemum greens wilt under chili and oil,
my young mother slips a blade through a slab of flank,
pulls silverskin from flesh in one leaf of tissue and flex.

At sixteen, she’s still new to this nation that un-names her daily.
An Oriental name will drag her, they say, so she gives up Sunju for Kathy,
though the tongue-tip press of -th- refuses her.

She’ll say Katt-ie for years, and sets even her teachers snickering,
the dignity of a name only the first of things taken. It’s barely dawn,
the pin-prick sun not yet heaved over the horizon,

but she prepares a week’s worth of lunch boxes and dinners:
salt-beef simmered in a stock of anchovy and soy, whole kkwarigochu
sing their green roulette as they braise, some mild, some blistering.

How to love in a country that teaches surrender:
tables heavy with home. Braised hen knotted in bitter greens. Candied root
of lotus. Birth-names muttered over dinner so as to not forget.

Dear 선주,
be proud of what they try
to efface.

.

.


Jihyun Yun is a Korean-American poet currently residing in Busan. A Fulbright fellow and Pushcart Prize nominee, her poems can be found in Narrative, Fugue, River Styx, AAWW The Margins, and elsewhere. She received her MFA from New York University in 2016.

2018-01-22T11:58:47+00:00

FOLLOW US, BB <3

close-link