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Asian Pear

My husband feeds me an Asian pear,
honey-tight, while I’m naked

in the tub. We pretend to talk
about politics and food,

he likes my fat belly.
I suggest a poem

called “An Asian Poem”
or “An Asian-American Poem”

or “An Adopted Asian-American Poem”
that would include words like: rice.  math.  gook.  compliment.  moon. 

After my bath, I find him in the bedroom,
lying on a fleece sleeping bag.

There’s comfort in being held
from behind, someone warming

the top of your earlobe
with words like coconut shrimp and Patron,

for no other reason than because it makes you hot
with laughter and hungry for whatever comes next.


Second New Moon after Winter Solstice

this is my real family
this is my good fortune

this white rice
does not lead to brain damage

or broken boats 

I forgot you for a long time
I sat on my mother’s lap

and she told children about my feelings
I got my hair braided in Jamaica, the pulling

of my neck to be steady
I ate coconut ice cream

and always wanted more
I’m coming home soon,

even if you don’t write me back 
I’m returning

to a land where I’ve forgotten the language,
even my tongue doesn’t get it,

even my heart is worried
it will beat 

beat and beat

and you won’t be anywhere near
to hear it



where I carry my weight,
occupying a table for two

in a crowded café
b/c I prefer space

the skin/underbelly
of my mother,

this obsessive need
for hair touching,

neck brushing,
eggs Benedict—

steam under winter yolk.
You asked me for a pair

of goats, their miraculous
hooves.  I asked you not to

travel on my birthday.
It reminds me of leaving

the soft place
of my birth, first breath—



Luck of the Rabbit & Blood Type AB

My family consisted of a dragon, a tiger, and a rat.
I was a rabbit from Korea with AB + blood,

which means when I found a baby rabbit
near the childhood fence,

I thought my mother would save it.
The dragon and the tiger were constantly fighting

while the rat self-destructed
in very clever ways.  I was soft as a bun

in a hot metal tin, wheeled
to the next table, for the next hungry family.


Learning Korean

I am sorry
for my plum-shaped tummy,

for being
the disastrous pull—seed  and  egg—

egg and seed,
for drawing connections

between what I know—
national flower: cow + goon + sharp breath

hello: onion-HA-say-O
grandmother: hi-money

jeon pancakes (저냐) are fat
with promise and generosity

sugar rice tea: sikhye
is mysterious mothering

my tongue is flat
with all the American curves

Levi jeans remind me of hamburgers
and a strip mall off the I-17,

the network of lights
turning off

            and on  


Bo Schwabacher is an adopted Korean American.  Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in CutBankTinderbox Poetry Journal, Bayou Magazine, and elsewhere.  She teaches at Northern Arizona University.