A Birthday Letter

Dear Birthmother, 

Today is my birthday

I took an afternoon walk along the Han River 

where I stopped to peer over the edge 

of the low concrete bridge

Below me a sea of black haired 

mothers bobbing in the midday heat 

a glance up from a familiar face-

high cheekbones round moon face 

I want to believe that was you birthmother,

but instead it felt like a painful reminder 

of another year gone.

Have you looked for me?

I’ve always searched for you

inside the crowded stalls of Dongdaemun market 

in the brown eyes of wrinkled faces 

Among the stone Buddhist temples

In the vials and swabs of my DNA


I am still 

your missing daughter.

For nine months 

you gave me life inside

your womb 

And birthed me out of trauma,

out of han



deep inside the 

wounds of our damaged bodies 

And each year on my birthday 

when I’m alone,

in the stillness of the night

I let myself dream of 

jeong, a deep mother-daughter 


And I wonder if I believe 

in possibility.