I can't stand people who write about themselves but clearly you are not me

by Hedgie Choi

grandpa on dad’s side who loves me,
his cow, and city hospitals makes me
a kite fresh, not from a kit,
with the line from a fishing reel
dipped in Comet kitchen scrub, serrated
so that should I get into a kite
war I would win. Don’t get into
wars, he says, but he’s winking
with his body, because winking
with the eyes is an American film thing
but closing and opening is­
an everybody thing. He does
the everybody thing of
stirring opium blooms
on the gas stove and dying
of morphine addiction and
really old age, only one of which
I get to inherit, that and
the kite and the empty stall
with Bessie-nurungi,
our bilingual cow that
was going places, was on
the brink of something big.    

I was alone in my room
so I got out and bought
ten liters of dirt and
put it over my stomach
remembering how
dad crawled out
of his study at night
and talked to the plants,
saying I’ll kill you
if you don’t bloom
this season and then,
sorry. just kidding.
I don’t know what
made me say that.
For my birthday
I went home
and mom kept
following me around
throwing confetti
tinsels and streamers.
Look at you, she said.
Look at you.
I said stop mom.
thank god she didn’t
stop, because
if she had I
would have had
to tell her that
I didn’t mean
what I said.
She pointed me
to where my dad
was standing, in
an endless living room
in white
tissue paper being
a cake for me.
he stayed so still
even when we
tinfoiled him
and froze him for
later enjoyment
and my millions of sisters
turned to me and said
you could leave
forever you could
never call you
could be the
scallop-edged knife
that does not waver, what
makes you come home?
But they are only jealous
because they have never
had a cake so big.

you can come with me
to my empty childhood home
on chungsan island and
have sex with me
on the electric blanket
even though you’re white
and never wash your towels
because they only wipe you
when you’re showered
and clean, just watery.
the tourist-bait field of
rapeseed flowers will be
dead because it’s winter,
but there will be snow
to cover the steel sheet rooftops
of the New Village Act,
to cover the domed graves,
to cover the six-inch deep
rice paddies that have
drowned everyone’s
alcoholic best friends
on their way home
ready to turn a new leaf.
I threw away your towels
because of the mold.
You can ask me
to hold your hand
in the outhouse
so you don’t fall in.
You can ask me
if the tap water is safe
and if you can eat
some more of those
tiny fermented shrimps.
You can ask, can I take
a picture? and can I
take another?

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