I am a teacher of four year olds. It has been my favorite age to teach ever since I started on the early childhood path, as far back to 1987 when I started as an intern at the Columbia Greenhouse Nursery School.
Happy Birthday Jiwon
Our body holds memories of what happened to us when we were young, albeit some are murky and forget about chronological order. But they are evidence of what we were going through at the time. Living with my aunt and uncle, I felt powerless and lonely for my parents, and though my cousins tried to comfort me, it was not enough.
Even as a little kid you know you’ve got little power to change your circumstances and that’s what really sticks in your craw, and what you remember most about being a child.
My life suffocates
Planting seeds of hate
I’ve loved, turned to hate
Trapped far beyond my fate
–Excerpted from “Harvester of Sorrow” by Metallica
One of the Korean things I learned was to ask my boyfriend if he’d eaten lunch.
Bon apetit ca 1972
When I lived in Seoul during the early 2000’s, I dated some and learned the endearing custom of asking your significant one if they’d eaten lunch. It’s a kissing cousin to the American “Did you eat yet?”
My boyfriend is good at making lunch so when I’m home I know I will eat lunch. At work? Not so much. It’s a comfort and joy to have someone concerned about your eating habits. There are so many people who aren’t as lucky.
“Did you eat yet?”
Thirst is angry at water. Hunger, bitter
with bread. The cave wants nothing to do
with the sun. This is dumb, the self-
defeating way we’ve been.
––excerpted from “The Self We Share” by Rumi
For some seasons now, I’ve been saving zinnia seeds to sow the next year. I can’t believe how a tiny seed can hold this wealth of beauty and grace.
Always looking ahead
Though I am a just one gardener growing on a very small scale, I claim my right to collect and save seeds so that I can play a part in crop biodiversity, and to keep the seed free. I don’t mean “free” in terms of I’m giving them away, but free from corporate control, free from copyrighting and patenting like how Monsanto does.
Mother of zinnias
And the question of seed sovereignty and control is one that we urban gardeners can answer. The practice of seed collecting has been around ever since humans could identify what a seed was, and for the agribusiness goliaths to make it a crime for small farmers to keep their own seed is criminal.
The life force of the seed is the life force of the people, and when big companies take that away from us, they are essentially killing us.
In 1995, Indian Agriculture was reoriented from being focused on National Food Security, which rests on the livelihood and ecological security of our small farmers, to being focussed on corporate control and corporate profits, which are made possible by the corporate written rules of “free” trade, trade liberalization, and globalization. Enabled by these rules, agrichemical giants entered India and started to control the seed sector. Where once farmers grew, saved, and replanted seeds, they were now forced to buy seed-chemical packages that allowed companies to extract super-profits from farmers through royalty collection.
–Dr. Vandana Shiva, April, 24, 1995
And since 1995, almost 300,000 farmers in India have committed suicide.
Live seed or die.
My aunt was taken to the ER last Wednesday and then admitted into the hospital because her blood pressure was dangerously low.
The first three days were in what they call “medical step down”: less critical than ICU but too critical for the regular hospital floor. On day four she was downgraded to the regular unit, but in a control isolation room. This means you need to put on a gown before entering and wash your hands without fail.
She contracted an infection while in the nursing home and was on antibiotics for two weeks, but the bacteria was still in her system. The nursing home didn’t test her stool and so didn’t know she was still sick. Apparently you can die from such infections if you’re an old lady.
I think I know how this movie ends. But I don’t want to rush the scenes. And if I’m allowed some rewrites of the plot along the way, permit me to make sure my Old Lady doesn’t croak in the hospital. Perhaps she could be in a field of bright yellow flowers when it’s her time.
In this light
I can see the animal of truth
unleashing equal parts delirium
What can Time take
that you have not already
–excerpted from “Animal of Truth” by Jiwon Choi
Don’t fuck robots. But if you do, don’t blame it on other people.
I’m not a robot
I was surprised to hear that men were having sex with robots. Though that might strike you as naive as romance with dolls has been going on for some time. But at least it was an inanimate object, not artificial intelligence run amuck.
Okay but sometimes I act like one
So some guys would rather have a relationship with a simulated woman versus the real thing. We should all be afraid. These men have given up on being with a real person because it’s hard. Maybe they were rejected by someone they liked, but welcome to life. Did they think they were going to all get a trophy for their mediocre effort? Get used to rejection, it’s part of life. But it does not have to break your spirit.
But not when I’m in love
If someone says “No thanks” to you, you can say, “Good riddance” to them. Don’t let it get in the way of becoming a fully participating citizen. Please use your highly advanced technology to find a cure for cancer or an end to war and famine instead of creating an entire race of fake people. That’s what the Kardashians are for.
from the dance
where one danced, he’s
in love with Polly Basil.
Holding her hand
does nothing for it,
breathing beside her
the moon-drenched air,
letting the silence speak
of the slow weight
in his belly
does nothing for it.
Against the chain-link fence
going for throat and ears,
breast and crouch,
helps a little.
––excerpted from “First Love, 1945” by Philip Levine