(Grain in Ear on the Lunar Calendar)
Hearts are weird.
I send hearts for you
but they become my eyes, sparkling.
Don’t call me Cherry.
You think I like being called Cherry
because your cat’s named Cherry?
It’s cherry season, so you think I’m cheap too?
Under parasols on a sandy beach
moms spoon frozen blueberries into their kids’ mouths.
You must be on a picnic.
No, we’re here for the ajumma money pool.
The boss ajumma’s large purple teeth
are chubby like cherries
but you don’t believe me.
You call me Cherry.
You mistake me for the flirty lady
under the cherry tree by the well.
You hide your face in your hands
whenever you’re in trouble.
Like always, I give in.
Your ten fingers, white and lean
a sex toy
expensive as dick.
I bitch but I think all kids are cute.
A kid bends down in the water
grabs something, throws it up in the sky, shouts
Mom, look, it’s a star!
My big, sea-soaked skirt is heavy and wet.
Even with twelve pleats, it can’t carry shit.
A fallen star is no longer a star
and I’m alone, puffing off dust
jammed in the red starfish
drying out, sticky.
No cakehole, piehole, not one open hole. Zero.
Whatever. Hole shapes are everywhere.
Mass Shipment of Spring Greens
(First Day of Summer on the Lunar Calendar)
You gotta get them when you can.
Boil them in soup or fix them up in seasoning
or swell them in porridge.
They say that once spring ends
Shepherd’s Purse is just a weed.
I’m no spring dame
and I’m no child learning the Korean alphabet
but I’m reading the greens’ names and repeating them aloud
so I can save them for if I get a baby or a dog.
I’ll send green smells across the earth and sky.
Why is Pussyjuice 냉 and Shepherd’s Purse 냉 a homonym?
Whatever, if you say it, you name it.
Pussyjuice, Wormwood, Wild Chive, Fatsia
and Ixeris. Ixeris, Ixie, Ix . . .
It’s bitter no matter how you say it.
The taste of greens comes from their names
not the hand that prepares them.
I grab two big handfuls of Pussyjuice
and have them weighed. They come to 2,960 won.
Are they cheap or expensive?
Would I know if I picked them in the mountains?
Would I know if I sold them at the market?
The ajeossi in the greens corner at Plus Mart
weighs a pile of Pussyjuice to tag the price.
The ajeossi pulls out his phone from his apron.
Shepherd’s Purse is just Shepherd’s Purse.
In Chinese characters it’s Jaechae
a biennial plant in the mustard family.
Mustards are yellow but Shepherd’s Purse isn’t yellow at all.
It says it blooms white from May to June
but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.
That ajeossi didn’t have to follow me
all the way to the checkout line
to show me the Doosan Encyclopedia
Pussyjuice picture on his phone.
I thought his kindness
might become a poem tomorrow
but when he walked away
I heard him blow
his nose in his hand.
Photograph © torbakhopper
These poems are taken from Beautiful and Useless by Kim Min Jeong, translated from the Korean by Soeun Seo and Jake Levine, published this month by Black Ocean.