As Mom had, I rubbed my wrists with gingko lotion.
They rested by my face
and I fell asleep smelling her.
In the morning
I boiled and drank salt water with pepper sauce for breakfast,
stirred with a chopstick.
I signed the postal slip on tiptoe
and brought home a letter from Seoul. I had no phone.
Kimchi packets had ripened on the trip.
I read the folded slips with foreign squares,
short crosses, stops, points
crowding the page, covering the creases.
My mother always loved the rain.
She loved the sharp edges of the stones washed with it
because she liked things clean.
It cleans every alley, she said.
God must like things clean. She was sure of this
more than the broken zippers
and the washed take-out boxes she saved in the pantry.
She loved to bleed.
I hope she finally found God’s cleaning in it.
Angela Eun Ji Koh taught English in Seoul, Korea and became a translating assistant in Tokyo, Japan. After teaching 11th grade comparative literature in Santa Ana, California she moved to New York City. She is now completing her MFA in Poetry at Columbia University. Her work has appeared in TriQuarterly, Juked, Entasis, Gulf Stream and elsewhere.