I am going to tell you how much I like watching movies and reading books until I learn Korean with this found poem in Japanese taken from the Jisho dictionary entry for the type of simple verbs I know in Korean, because I am too chickenshit to actually attend lessons and this is a cry for help because I just wasted more of my life relearning basic Korean for the nth time
- to see; to look; to watch; to view; to observe
I SEE (that) I am Korean. I FIND (that) I am not Korean.
- to examine; to look over; to assess; to check; to judge
I TRY to learn how to do it all properly, HAVE A GO AT sprinkling Korean identity like gochugaru throughout my life. I GIVE this reclaimed being A TRY.
- to look after; to attend to; to take care of; to keep an eye on
I EXPERIENCE sweat-soaked nightmares of translating word for otherword to some stern songsaengnim’s disapproval. I MEET WITH standards that size me up or down until I am never enough.
- to experience; to meet with (misfortune, success, etc.)
I LOOK AFTER the erased self blotted into my shadow. I ATTEND TO this Korean body’s wants, needs, last. I TAKE CARE OF this Easter basket of microaggressions I pulled on scavenger hunt; I KEEP AN EYE ON their innocuous pastels, waiting for dragons to hatch.
- to try …; to have a go at …; to give … a try
I EXAMINE the quaver of my vocal cords, interrogating the integrity of the basic equipment. I LOOK OVER old materials in an attempt to remember han. I ASSESS the nervous chill at the nape of my neck; I CHECK my audio quality. I JUDGE myself, and, as in cliché, find wanting.
- to see (that) …; to find (that) …
I SEE the delicate letters for the first time, the geometry of failure in right angles. I LOOK into the abyss of my misunderstanding; I WATCH my soul augment, infarct, grovel. I VIEW many beginner videos like impressionist clouds passing me by. I OBSERVE my lips and jaw forming a note of pure multivocal truth in this muddled world.
Maria S. Picone/수영 is a Korean American adoptee who won Cream City Review’s 2020 Summer Poetry Prize. She has been published in Tahoma Literary Review, The Seventh Wave, Fractured Lit and Best Small Fictions 2021. Her work has been supported by Lighthouse Writers, GrubStreet, Kenyon Review, and Tin House. She is a 2022 Palm Beach Poetry Festival Kundiman Fellow and Chestnut Review’s managing editor. Her website is mariaspicone.com, Twitter @mspicone.
© Variant Literature Inc 2021