When my harabeoji died / last spring I thought I’d move to California, convert / to Catholicism, kneel beside my halmeoni at early Mass // become student of those hundred and three / Korean saints though I can’t name more than one.
Halfway through the second bottle
of Charles Shaw, threadbare twenty year olds
in an unheated apartment. November,
world desaturating as we bear witness.
J asks me about the “spirituality of my family.” As in,
what have you kept, discarded?
The cold seeps through the window uninhibited.
Through curtainless pane, vague light
but in our dark corner, a bare bulb
the only beacon. I, buried like a casket
under a stranger’s blankets, softened by warmth
in the pit of my stomach, am thousands of miles
from every place I’ve left. When my harabeoji died
last spring I thought I’d move to California, convert
to Catholicism, kneel beside my halmeoni at early Mass,
become student of those hundred and three
Korean saints though I can’t name more than one.
We pray for the dead and what is prayer
besides the voice of my gomo as summer waned,
telling him we came to see him, having fought through
an hour of traffic to find last week’s flowers wilted,
too soon. To stretch out my hands as I might have done
at the altar for the elements I could not receive
and to kneel in the grass with new water.
J whispers, it’s funny how that’s always
enough. And who can say? Still I might,
here or there, pull the habit of strange devotion
over my shorn head and in spaces untranslatable
adopt a language in which I don’t yet know
the word for grace.