Benediction as Disdained Cuisine

Jihyun Yun

Give me now

what scalds and reeks.

Give me chilis and garlic raw.

Give me dropwort

and chrysanthemum greens.

Buckwheat and tea. The bite

of a well ripened kimchi.

Let me wrap my meat

in what others mistake

for spoil. Let me unearth months

-old jars of ponytail radish,

turned just so, and bless

rice with its sunny juices.

Give me that funk and meju pungency.

Give me fried corvina that stares

vacuous as I eat, its mouth lolling

and toothen. The egg-sac nestled inside,

give me that too. Pouch of possibility,

multitude and sweet. So crisp the

oil-puff ed dorsal fi ns, the tail fi ns.

How good the fl esh off the cheeks.

The grease off blistered scales.

Give me now what disgusts.

Grilled tongue and entrails fat

with what you call digestive gunk

and I call gold. Fiery chicken

feet with the nails neatly trimmed.

Minutia of bone. Spit and keep eating.

Give me stink. Give me pig skin

dipped in powdered grain. Give me krill

and pickled octopus: blood-hued,

suckers up and gaping. Food

that makes you honor what was killed

in your name. Vein of the cod roe.

Blistered hair of the intact hock.

Evidence of bodies carved from.

What makes you clasp your palms

to your nose is the bell that calls in

my hunger. I don’t care anymore

what you think. Give me sesame oil

and fat. Give me bloodied and raw.

The white broth of famine food.

Food made to last. To transform

with the seasons. To survive

other nations. Give me all

I avoided so long for your sake.

Give me my heritage back.

Give me refuse and I’ll make it

worthy. Let me suck meat off the shell

of every animal you won’t eat.

 

From Hunger Mountain Issue 23: Silence & Power, which you can purchase here.

Art by @anna_croc01, curated by Dana Lyons.

Jihyun Yun is a Korean-American poet from California. A Fulbright Research Fellow, she received her MFA from New York University in 2016. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bat City Review, Adroit Journal, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. A winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, her full-length collection SOME ARE ALWAYS HUNGRY will be published by The University of Nebraska Press in September 2020.