Are We Not Dead Yet?

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

become you

unleashing equal parts delirium

and deliverance.

What can Time take

that you have not already

let go?

–excerpted from “Animal of Truth” by Jiwon Choi

My Last Day

Coming and going.

jiwons-last-day.jpg

Last Day, September 1974

Here I am on the last day of living with my aunt and uncle and cousins in Seoul.  I had been living with them after my parents emigrated to the US and decided to send me back when they realized they couldn’t take care of me and themselves at the same time.

This was the day I was leaving my favorite cousins and a life of being connected to my Korean skin.

How many times do I have to say “goodbye?”

Skin remembers how long the years grow

when the skin is not touched, a gray tunnel

of singleness, feather lost from the tail

of a bird…

––excerpted from “Two Countries” by Naomi Shihab Nye