• J. Kim

Hallabooji


About 20 years ago my grandparents were held up at gunpoint at an ATM by three men.

My grandmother got away & called the cops

By the time the police arrived

one had fled

one was unconscious

and one was in a headlock.


As the story goes,

when the police asked him- "Weren't you afraid? They had a gun!"

he responded, "This is not the first time I have seen one of those."



 


I never heard you sing.

But I know how much you loved Ginger.

I know you were born on northern Korean land

& walked to a chance with toddler feet

I know you lost your mother.

I know you have a brother somewhere in China we have no way of finding

I know your father gave him to that family because he had no other choice.


I know you liked that I loved kimchi

& that you checked my pinky in the hospital when I was born

I know you translated in the Korean War for the US Marines

& again in the courts after you retired

I know the war cost you more than your pinky, some ribs, a portion of intestine, & your lower leg.


I know you were accepted to Juliard

& went to Duke for chemistry.


I think about you every time I see a Sapporo in a Japanese steak house

or a red knit hat and a smile.


I think about cracked plastic covers on the carpet

tiny cups of melon gelatin with chewy green cubes

a well-used rice cooker

wood & beads

African violets in the window

grey tan couches

& strong hands.

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