I am from here, Tenafly, NJ US
giggling, running away from 엄마 trying to get me clean and
hiding behind the smooth ivory sofa butt-naked where her hands can barely reach
playing hide-and-seek with my symbol of beauty and all things good.
dreaming to become a comedian when I grow up so I can hear 아빠’s belly-laugh over and over again,
the sound of his voice so big, it pops my ears and shakes the whole house.
protecting 오빠 from our parents who come rushing to punish him after my own piercing cry for help to save me from his endless teasing.
I am from there, Seoul, Korea
catching my American tongue when they call me 슈퍼뚱돼지 부인
and other words I can’t say but still hurt me.
practicing in my room everyday to get good at 고무줄 놀이
the taut black rubber band connecting each piece of furniture in my room so I could
show off to those girls who always made a point to leave me out of the game.
drowning in chlorine water because the girls jumped
on top of me for a “piggy back ride” without my consent.
playing dodgeball with death threats from
the faces that only knew to smile in front of authority.
I am from there, still, Seoul, Korea
giving up my shoes to the bare feet of a little girl who cries for the same reasons I do.
putting my umbrella over the drenched girl with a holey uniform on our way to school so we’re both wet but smiling.
learning sign language so the girl no one spoke to knew it is the others who were missing out on her, not the other way around.
I am here, Oakland CA US
growing inside and out.
learning light and dark and the in between.
education brought me here.
pursuit of happiness made me stay.
in my heart is where I live.