How to Love an Adopted Korean Girl
Take pictures of her in the dark
when the moon
is almost full, on the verge
of an eclipse.
Ask her if she sees the rabbit.
there are two ways
of looking at almost everything. She will
find her way home
by eating pumpkin porridge. She will
realize her roots
by remembering she came to America
on tiny boat shoes.
Her mother is beautiful, you know,
because she was born
from the same heartbeat,
an intelligence reserved
for the soft-spoken.
Bring tangerines & light
citrus spritz on fire
to get a better look at her eyes.
She will smell like forgetfulness and dank
oil, the neck is a cradle.
She will love you if you stay,
if you promise
you have never left.
A Korean Bathhouse in Dream City
We would go for baked eggs and get scrubbed. I would know for real if ajummas (아줌마) clean American tourists while wearing black lace.
My birthmother would smile at my milk-moons like a full gulp from the spring —
but if she had kept me, it would be more likely
she would bring customers red beans with ice, patbingsu (팥빙수).
She would not be called the “wife of a professor” or the respectful word
for a “married aged woman,” but instead another kind of ajumma,
who “shoves her way through a crowd to find a seat in the subway.”
She would be the street vendor of my dreams, my mihonmo (미혼모),
and I would be the mi-chin-nom (미친놈) who knows no curse words for what she is.
Bo Schwabacher’s poems have appeared in CutBank, diode, Muzzle, Redivider, The Offing, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Her first book of poems, A Korean Bathhouse in Dream City, is being released by YesYes Books. She teaches at Northern Arizona University.