In the Thick of It

I’m back in Korea, the birthplace of my father’s parents,
which means I’m again seeing people everywhere
who appear as though they could be related to me,
here my grandmother’s face, there my grandfather’s.
Because there are only 28 clans in Korea, it’s very possible
that the man selling fish is a cousin, as well may be
my barista this morning, the front desk clerk,
the impatient driver who nearly hits me with his car,
the haggard old woman living on the Busan Station floor
who shouts out to everyone and to no one, words I can’t understand.
If I could speak this language, I’d be able to tell these people who I am,
how my grandparents came from here, find out the details
of their lineage, make friends, at least, with all these strangers
who could have the same ancient blood pulsing through them.
And even if I couldn’t confirm ties with the lady in the subway station,
I could at least shout back to her that we might be family.

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