This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Alaina Hanchey, is from Omma, Sea of Joy and Other Astrological Signs by Bo Schwabacher, released by Tinderbox Editions in 2021.
A Korean Bathhouse in a Dream City
We would go for baked eggs and get scrubbed. I would know for real if ajummas (아줌마) clean American tourists while wearing black lace. My birthmother would smile at my milk-moons like a full gulp from the spring— but if she had kept me, it would be more likely she would bring customers red beans with shaved ice, patbingsu (팥빙수). She would not be called the “wife of a professor” or the respectful word for a “married aged woman,” but instead another kind of ajumma, who “shoves her way through a crowd to find a seat in the subway.” She would be the street vendor of my dreams, my mihonmo (미혼모), and I would be the mi-chin-nom (미친놈) who knows no curse words for what she is.