paper boat

i

am

already

starting
		)beginning

to forget..



those houses built and raised
by families
children
mothers
below age

growing side by side in rows
in villages
in a billion person economy
a pocket
of home



here
in the new land
we are the friendly neighbours
who-moved-away-neighbours
and 'never returned'
neighbours

the best friend whom you shared
your first kiss
living always
in the past-

a memory
a treasury...


they tried
to remove you,
erase you,
tell you that you don't belong
put you in another town
another
	pocket,

put an ocean between you
and called it separation
'immigration'
	'integration'

it was
humiliation>



but in my heart of hearts
i know
that we are connected by a bridge

a melted ice
land


under sea,

and all i need
is a paper boat.

I wrote this poem today called “paper boat” but in private, I think is more fittingly called “our story.” In it, I’ve tried to tell the story of my family from the reaches of my own perspective which are limited to my knowledge and experiences and position in the family tree. I draw upon childhood images of the “first generation” as it may have been in Seck-Hee as well as how it was for the “first and a half generation” and “second generation” growing up in Canada:

Making paper boats with Grandma.

family

just when my mind begins to race
imagining disasters in the ten-fold
tragedy unimaginable…

i remember that time moves slow enough
to catch yourself caught in the moment,
that ‘it’ is just right…

that mom’s hands never really age,
forever giving you enough to hold onto
if only wrapped around her one finger..
the first heartbeat you’d known

that dad’s tears are real badges of parenthood,
there when you screw up
and succeed… more than words,
saltwater lessons of life

that brother’s love is always there,
even when he was smarter, stronger, faster
he wasn’t trying to be better,
he just was…

that sister’s care is always stronger
than a proud defeat,
and she is always mother’s touch
even as miles – or inches – away..

and family is a root
a trunk
a branch

a leaf floating gently down
at the kiss of wind..

a wellspring of hope
a fountain of youth

a history, a language
and a name.

Looking back: boy & girl louies

Looking back on pictures of summers past, it’s easy to romanticize a one-time trip as an every year occurrence during a period of our time: childhood, adolescence…

boy & girl louies

But then again, don’t we go back into our pasts every-time we reflect on our memories? I read in a Psychology Today article that there are two kinds of selves: the ‘experiencing’ self and the ‘remembering’ self. The experiencing self is the part of our conscious awareness that is here in the moment while the remembering self is the part of our consciousness that creates a record of what we did. The main difference between the two is that when we remember an event in our lives, we then experience it as it happened when we lived through it, as it was recorded by our remembering self. As a Psych major, it’s nothing new to view memory as something immediate; we’re all an aggregate of our pasts, presents and futures – a part of us always as who we were, as we are, and as we are to become. I like to look at history that way, as a path or passage and not merely a passenger upon it.

As I look at these photos again of great times with cousins on Mayne Island I can’t help but feel like this always happened. I’m sure this feeling will only get reinforced in the years to come, but that’s what makes the philosophy of life – that it is ultimately about our memories made – so attractive.

Maybe it’s that dichotomous relationship with our realities that can so torment us; we always have a half in the past and a half in the present. One that is here and one that has stepped behind, hoping to disappear into our memories of summers past. But the same torment that can come from days gone by can also breed within us the great fire of hope that tomorrow will bring reprieve. That tomorrow will be different. That tomorrow will be the same.

love must be made of dirt

Love must be made of dirt. We are born from the ground, and that is where we return to. Love is what birthed us into this world, giving us bodies and all her resources to nourish these bodies. What we do is what we give back. I am not proud of all the gifts I have given, some of them were worse in the giving back than in the taking. But so is the nature of Life.

Life, holding love’s hand, seems to guide us when we cannot lead anymore.

We live for each other. When we are young, we live for our parents or ourself. When we are a teenager, we live for our peers. When we are adults, we live for our lovers and friends. When we are adults still, we live for our children. When we are ripe, we live for our children’s children. Death is a friend and not a foe. Even the darkest, most hated bodies nourish life.