memoir Poem: Woman across the street reminds me

Watching above from a window

during my lunch break

the woman across the street

looks like my mother.

She’s wearing the same kind of clothes

white 70s inspired pants

white tiny circled patterned top

white summer hat with a long trailing tail

breathing in the urban breeze.

She’s walking in the same way too

a hurried, anxious, determined pace

as if she’s weaving thoughts

solving problems on her way home

or to the bank to make a deposit

or to the Korean grocery store.

Where she’ll chat with the unfriendly owners

who smirk at me because I can’t speak

my ancestral language anymore

and therefore I don’t belong

to the tribe.

But she’s still proud

because I’m her lost baby,

her last bird with the bright eyes

before they were given away

the one she had to leave behind

the one who never gained her approval.

I can’t say goodbye

afraid we’ll fight again

over old bitter wounds

and reverse our frayed bonds

with opposition.

Illness is an excuse

to stay away in long distance

brief conversations over glimpses of things

she’s still alive and always will survive

as long as life itself exists

my mom’s a part of it

that’s why I see her in other people

versions of her as I remembered

full of dream panoramic

symbols of nostalgic memory.

She was always so resolutely strong

She never would give up ever

all my life I was a vegetarian

since childhood I was sensitive,

but she still tries to make me eat beef

Because she survived war poverty

and physical violence as a child

and again as a long suffering wife.

Survived having a critical

mother and husband

by being a critical mother and wife.

She was usually right,

against our father, she was always right

and he knew it too,

it humiliated him that we knew

and made him rage

like the Incredible Hulk

or pretend victimhood, cast blame and sulk.

She was indomitable, statuesque, giantess

while father was short, charming, slouching.

I see her as inventive competitive witty

a mathematical prodigy

top of her class, first in line, expert at strategy

naturally liberated but she tried not to be

if it went against tradition or god.


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