Memoir Poem: Poem for my Mom

Drawing of a Korean fan dancer before I painted it, Judy Eun Kyung Kim c2018

Times that I knew

my conservative mom was cool

was when she related

to me like a friend.

I taped pages from a magazine

to my bedroom walls

and she surprisingly approved

said she did the same thing

when she was growing up in Korea.

I couldn’t imagine she would

have preteen posters of

Duran Duran and Rick Springfield

she seemed too pragmatic for

soft pop heart crush idols

she lived a war torn childhood.

But her acknowledgment

that I was interested in men

was the closest thing

to a birds and bees

sex talk that we never had.

We practiced the don’t ask don’t tell method,

the survive by omission logic

our family specialized in denial.

I remember when she once

snuck pizza to me in my room

after Father angrily announced

that I should go hungry

he was always the master

of undeserved punishment.

So she would sabotage him

smuggling love and kindness

as best as she could.

She loved me more than I deserved.

Those acts of silent defiance

remind me of why I’m her child

her reflective progeny

her shy and surprisingly

passionate fire starter

her subversive,

rebellious girl.

Watch out for the youngest

we tend to break the mold

and dance to our own trouble.

Watch out for the power

of the little by little

tortoise pace wins the race

like erosion breaks mountains

through tiny rivers laughing.

She outwardly rejected

rebellion in herself and in me

she focused on my redemption

although I was already free

and so was she,

strong willed stubborn

an untamable spirit lives in her

no matter that she disguises it.

She was the fiercest, proudest

most liberated woman that I’ll ever know

hidden powerhouse

my mama goddess

who birthed me to this world.

No one could break her

no matter how hard they lied

or tried to beat her down.

She never stayed down.

35 Comments

    1. 🙂that’s a great question! There were Frank Sinatra-like Korean singers back in her day I think 🤔, thanks for your compliment Sylvester❤️

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      1. I liked the old singers, the women sang beautiful soulful ballads, very similar to songs from old James Bond movies like Goldfinger 🙂. Now the Korean pop music scene is all boy bands or girl bands, (too formulaic for my taste) but they sing & dance up a storm! 💃🏻🕺🏻🙂

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      2. I grew up in a time of soul singers and so many bands. That all faded away over the years. Those boy and girl bands are the stuff of teeny bopper dreams 😄

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  1. I loved this. It reminds me of my mom and I wish I could express this to her as eloquently and brave as you. I would like to share this with my mom on mothers’s day in a card with your permission. 🙂

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    1. Hi Kathy, thank you for your compliment. I think mother’s from abn older generation, struggled through a lot, and paved a way for more freedom for their daughters, both consciously and unintentionally. I’d be honored for you to share my poem with your mom. 🙂

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  2. Great poem! It reminded me of the loving times spent with my mother before I left home for college. I remember back in second grade I had written a poem for her birthday and when I recited it infront of everyone, she was clapping the loudest!.I am sure your mother would have very proud and happy to read your tribute to her! What was her first reaction after reading it?

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    1. Thank you Bhagyashree, I like your story, it’s very sweet. I remember writing a school report, the theme was “my hero”, I wrote about my brother and he was proud to hear it. I haven’t shared my poems with my mother, but she knows that I love her. I appreciate your comment.

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