which is already too long.
I made kimchi jjigae for my roommates.
Ribboned the onion, cubed the spam,
rinsed the kimchi jar into the pot
with a secret tablespoon each
of sesame oil, butter, and lard.
My roommates say it tastes good,
the fat mellowing the briney spice of the warm stew.
I taste home.
In my family, someone is always trying to feed someone,
someone is relenting to be fed.
I want to know whose mouths they loved to feed,
mouths now waiting, and who had once fed them.
I want to know what tastes like home – the flavors for which,
on their one day off, they drove an hour to the grocery
with the closest ingredients, and for which they cooked
the rest of that day, finally nestling many meals
into cleaned jars, takeout containers, and tupperware.
Flavors for which they scoured the city to find
that one restaurant to go on special occasions, which,
when the food arrived, was good, but not as good as mom’s,
nor as good as halmeoni’s. I want to know
the tastes they labored for, the trial and error in creating
that which can have no recipe. I want to know
the smells which hugged them, twirled in their hair,
smells which might make this tiny apartment,
this hell of a town into home.
I need to know whose mouths are empty,
whose tongues are homeless,
are you listening yet?
For Daoyou Feng, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Soon Chung Park, Xiaojie Tan, Yong Ae Yue, and Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels