Three Dreams of Korea: Notes on Adoption


This one happens in morning
as a nearby crow wakes me,
calling God, God, look at this :
I am on the steps of a church,
wrapped in Monday's Korea Times
telling of the drought in Pusan.
You can live by the water
and still die of thirst, and I,
there on the cold brick steps,
am dying. But dying
means the presence of breath.
This one happens on Hangul Day,
Independence Day in Seoul,
where girls in purple satin
hanboks parade through
downtown streets. In this dream
I make eye contact with
every single one of them.
Another boy, a few years
older than I, rides
a tricycle in the parade,
trailing the girls.
He sees me. He winks,
as if he knows how
everything will end.


This one happens in the evening
just as daylight surrenders to the moon,
and the flute of dusk arrives.
It is cool.
I am wrapped in a sky blue blanket,
so whoever finds me thinks kindly
of whoever left me.
The one who finds me is a nun.
She opens the door, looking
beyond me
into the tired night,
then looks down.
She gasps softly.
She says, ahneyong, you sweet
beautiful child. She bends
down like an angel
and takes me
into her arms.


This one happens in the cruelest moment
of the day, as heat curls flowers
into dirt. A man, drunk
with despair, screams at the sun.
His sorrow is a collage of
moths and ants, crawling
from his face to his chest.
I watch from the steps.
It is the year of the dog
and I am a part of it :
unable to speak
but an expert at listening :
to the old man from Laos who sits
on the steps two buildings down :
he is telling another man
how Hmong children become human
on the third day of life,
after the soul calling ceremony
and the burning of animal flesh.
He smokes from a pipe
and closes his eyes as he inhales.
I can hear all of this.
I can hear a woman rustling inside the church.
She is a dancer, so she speaks with her hands.
I hear her rise, sweetly
from her knees to her feet.
This means she believes
in dreams. I hear her
slide her hand, sweetly
along her hair. This means
she believes in the sun.
I hear her move towards me
and place her open palm on the door.
This means she welcomes me.
This means she believes
in the miracle of possibility.

Lee Herrick, "Three Dreams of Korea: Notes on Adoption" from The Many Miles from Desire, published by WordTech Communications LLC. Copyright © 2007 by Lee Herrick.  Reprinted by permission of Lee Herrick.
Source: The Many Miles from Desire (WordTech Communications, 2007)
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