The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Omma, Sea of Joy and Other Astrological Signs by Bo Schwabacher

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.

Bo Schwabacher is a South Korean adoptee. Born in South Korea, she was adopted at three months old and grew up in Illinois. Her poems have appeared in Cha, Radar, Tupelo Quarterly, Zone 3, and others. Omma, Sea of Joy and Other Astrological Signs, published by Tinderbox Editions, is her debut collection of poems. 

Alaina Hanchey, known as Harley to both friends and foes, believes rhetoric is intensely important and the way we speak can change the world. That belief was shared by her best friend, Quinn Arielle Kerlin, who inspired her to volunteer and immerse herself in those words that matter, and the connections that matter.

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