Homesickness in Birmingham (late morning)

Homesickness in Birmingham (late morning)

…The smell of rice I missed the most.
I walked round Birmingham | my nose

aching for the familiar scent of it
—just 1 bowl of rice to ease the cramps of homesickness.

I cried in public for a bowl of rice.
For the sound of steam ejecting from a rice cooker |

the fresh whiff of it smeared through the house.
The next thing I know | some tubby white guy

is spraying a Gutai on my stomach
too soon & offering to make me a Pot Noodle as if

that might be compensation for Jin Ramen.
I told him it was fine—“I’ll do better

next time.” He never did.
He worked hard all the way to wedding bells

& I too lonely & concerned that if
I don’t take him I’ll end up a spinster…

8 thoughts on “Homesickness in Birmingham (late morning)

  1. Oh boy, this is a good one. You nailed the far-eastern mail-order bride thing just like that. Not sure if that was really what you were aiming at, but man did you get it!

    I think this has to be the first serious poem I have ever read that had a reference to Pot Noodles in it.

    1. Na…Yoon Yong only lived in Brum for studying. But I think the feeling of homesickness works for a foreign bride. I recall in my home town a man fat enough to be wheel-chaired had a Thai bride 6 stone wet through,. Seeing her wheel him in a coat bigger than her to protect her from the wet & cold, you couldn’t help but see a sorrow.
      When it comes to words, whatever is needed. I learned a lot from Hart Crane who said something like, a poet has to mine all manner of jargon for their purpose.

  2. I suspected a lot of reality here, Daniel, as you explained in the comment above. The fear of winding up alone is pretty widespread, I see it all around me. However, although I’ve seen close to the kind of situation you described in the comment several times, I find it very difficult to put myself inside the heads of either of the parties. For me, it is kind of opaque. (Enjoyed this piece.)

    1. I was talking about loneliness with a pal of ine the other day & we came to the conclusion that we’d both sort of been indoctrinated to believe individuality was a good thing & I think it is, but it also leads to loneliness if taken to an extreme. You wind up ostracizing yourself. Homesickness is a horrible thing. I have had it for years now, there’s only one cure really: going home.

  3. The fact that you made a passing reference to the GUTAI Movement (Japanese) in the context of the “visual results” rather than the Dansaekhwa Movement (Korean monochromaticism: off-white “stuff” on pinkish/yellow skin) is really clever: referencing to the character’s possible views on Korean – Japanese history (considering how vigorously and often the Japanese had tried to rid Korea of its language, writing, national surnames, the issue of comfort women, etc.). As a former real life mentee of a GUTAI member of course I am uncomfortable with the analogy, BUT as this is fiction it is a powerful use of words.

    This is simple and to the point. REALLY well done!!

    1. To be honest I just know so little about art. It was originally Pollock, but that felt wrong. Gutai seemed popular & obscure enough. I don’t know the Korean movements, & not knowing afyer so long here & having visited a number of galleries told me something: maybe Yoon Yong wouldn’t know, but she would know something more popular. It felt disingenious to have to search out something Korean specific because Yoon Yong is having an identity crisis. But all in all my lack of art knowledge simply paid off as a fortunate accident. Sorry to disappoint. I thought about this in a different direction.

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