(Written after reading that 유영애, one of the Atlanta shooting victims, was killed while opening the door at the spa.)
Our ancestors are familiar with
the power of circles-
alternate economies flowing
with giving and receiving,
lending and borrowing,
serving and being served,
in the confidence that the gifts always return,
everyone receives their fill.
And yet we have settled in a land
of impenetrable hierarchy-
stark lines and staggering ladders
demanding that we progress, climb,
and grasp for scarce gifts
that never come back.
We are too familiar with opening doors for others
only to become collateral damage,
taken by the delusions and fantasies
of lustful, violent men.
We are tired of being commended as bridge builders-
our stagnant bodies witnessing
the progression of others,
while our spirits are trampled,
our backs are bruised.
We are exhausted from preparing feasts for others-
forever hosting, always feeding,
left to wash the dishes and clean the mess
with grumbling bellies.
We are weary from the pauses we make to let others speak
while our voices are stuck
like frogs in our throat,
stuffed down by closed lips
every time they try to jump out.
Restore to us, oh God,
visions of 계날,
reminders of your abundant provision
that allow us to claim generous care for ourselves.
Help us imagine and live in a day
when the doors are swung open wide for us,
bridges are not needed because we are all home,
our bellies feast in contentment and delight,
gifts are both given and received without lack,
and we are worthy to demand what has been stolen.
Remind us that the circle of your Love
has no scarcity.
— — — —
*My family grew up with the Korean practice of “keh” (계)- a monthly, informal lending community where members contribute money each month and then wait their turn to receive the pot. The 계날 (“keh day”) was when our families would share a meal together and give to/ receive from the pot. The photo is of me and my cousins + sister, potentially on a 계날.