Birth Father 아버지 (abeoji): Invitation to Tea

Bo Hee Moon | Poetry

Birth Father 아버지 (abeoji): Invitation to Tea

It is too soon
to call you 아빠 (appa).

Like a Korean
tea bowl,

my body
was used

as someone
else’s treasure.

Grieving in
my sleep,

I saw an older
man like you

from being

Maybe after calling

each other honey 여보 (yeobo),
my birth mother

thought you’d
take us to

another country.
Perhaps, when you

married another
woman, there was

a red box
of bridal gifts

and 사주단자 (sajudanja)
a traditional letter

with your lunar
birth time. I’m trying

to say that when a man
wrote me, asking

if I was his daughter,
I responded, what

year was she born?
When my birth

mother was pregnant,
did she select

an auspicious
name? The

energy of a dead
one’s bones

becomes one
with the earth,

your descendant.
Perhaps, you can

tell me where she is.
Today is a charmed

invitation for rice
tea, a tea offering,

shelter for
a kindred traveler.

Note: This poem includes and adapts language from Andrew Eungi Kim’s “Nonofficial Religion in South Korea: Prevalence of Fortunetelling and Other Forms of Divination,” appearing in the Review of Religious Research.