Thank God for Hard Feelings
The life of a garment worker in midtown Manhattan.
She worked as seamstress in the sweatshops of New York City.
Whose mother is not the love of their life?
She pushed her lunch on co-workers
from Russia, Togo, Haiti, Dominican Republic.
They disliked the sugar fried anchovies.
They saw the nimbus on each fish
and politely or raucously declined. The cavernous
spaces of her mind. Having studied graphic design
at Duksung Women’s College, Dobong-gu, Seoul,
what else was she going to do but write a novel.
Staring at sea windows, she scrawled and chalked
in her head. Drong of eternal absence. An expert
on the social history of the Staten Island Ferry,
she confided in me the act of crying was a privilege.
What type of person leaves a near full can of
coconut water on the bleachers? You have to be
happy in order to weep, or sob. I can teach you,
she said to me. If you can hold a pencil, I can teach you
how to draw. But I’ve known people who have
no hands. Who have no fingers.
Copyright © 2022 by Haesong Kwon. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 3, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.