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Before I was born
the erasure of my origins
was imprinted in my genes
the survival of my maternal bloodline
lingers distant in the air like
the fragrant scent of cherry blossom
in full bloom
Before I understood my otherness
I stare at my reflection in the mirror
slanted brown eyes
thick wavy coarse hair- not straight
like the typical Asian
My olive skin
rich in melanin
No one has ever uttered
You look just like your mother
And I wonder if I’m Korean enough
Before I spoke my first word
I had no family tree
Last night, halmoni appeared in my dreams
soothing me on her back
the creases of my chubby legs poked out from her hips
her worn hands folding the garlic into the cabbage
the fermented smell of kimchi
inviting me in
And I belonged
Before I knew that love existed between
my birth mother and my abandonment
I tried to hold space for her
but somewhere inside
the fragments
of loss and reconciliation
I let her go
and for the first time
I grieved.

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