My Grandmother Teaches Me to Make Kim-Bap
by Elena Lee
My grandmother's dampSecond Place Winner
Driftwood fingers sway in the air’s
Invisible tides, bark swirling in knots, whorls
~ whirlpools trapping history. Beckon
I think her fingers grow from wrinkled walnut
trees, so hard to crack
as they stroke the snowy backs
Of each rice cloud, nestle them in the cracking raft of
fractured sea made flaking stone.
Her blunt wooden flesh herds billows like sheep like wayward thoughts
In uniformity ~ grain on
A geometric patch to bind earth on
With deft rhythm her hands make
Across the white linen rice, paste pastel
Egg ribbons weave
Velvet unagi threads sequin with
Gaudy carrot accents ~
still a tapestry incomplete.
Still she brushes water across the frame, as if
inscribing her silent signature will prime sea
For another harvest ~
Gathers quilt folds and spirals her
Will inwards, around and around, squeezing the
into a shell to hear the waves
a telescope to glimpse past stars.
If I cradle it to my ear, maybe I
Can hear the far-off earth from which she sprouted
See the roots still twining across oceans.
“Now you try.”
*Note: Kim-bap is Korean sushi; kim is dried seaweed used in Korean cuisine and unagi is eel