Friday, 27 March 2020

Mother to myself

by Tanya Ko Hong

I am busy taking care of 
my children in the morning
and dropping them off at school

Standing in the messy kitchen
I miss my mother who prepared food for me
over the briquettes
well-cooked sticky white rice 
with white fish on top
and a nice warm bone soup

Instead I dip leftover French toast
in cold maple syrup
while cleaning up the kitchen

I stop dead and ask
What am I doing—

I grab a handful of new rice 
thaw the mackerel 
I saved for my husband
and warm the chicken noodle soup
I saved for my children

In my kitchen
I usually become my mother
who wasted nothing and ate our scraps
But now I am cooking for me
broiling fish
Ah, smell of cooking rice
After warming the noodles
I turn off the gas stove

* * * * *

Tanya Ko Hong (Hyonhye) is a poet, translator, and cultural curator who champions bilingual poetry and poets. Born and raised in Suk Su Dong, South Korea, she immigrated to the U.S. at the age of eighteen. She is the author of five books: The War Still Within (KYSO Flash Press, 2019); Mother to Myself, a collection of poems in Korean (Prunsasang Press, 2015); Yellow Flowers on a Rainy Day (Oma Books of the Pacific, 2003); Mother’s Diary of Generation 1.5 (Qumran, 2002); and Generation 1.5 (Korea: Esprit Books, 1993).

Her poetry appears in Rattle, Beloit Poetry Journal, Entropy, Cultural Weekly, WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly (published by The Feminist Press), Lunch Ticket,  great weather for MEDIA, Califragile, The Chosun Ilbo, The Korea Times, Korea Central Daily News, and the Aeolian Harp Series Anthology, among others.

Author’s website:

1 comment:

  1. I ate breakfast just before reading this, and now I'm hungry again! And yes, as Sonnie Sussillo says in her comment on this elsewhere, we all, as well, must be a mother to ourselves.