Oxtail Soup by Tanya Ko Hong

Leaf_Print_on_Sidewalk oxtail soup_02

I look at the bruise on my left hand
dark purple

mung—holding in the pain
silence of sorrow
ashes spread on the ocean
settling in layers
palimpsest of lives
like maple leaf

impressions left on the sidewalk after
they’ve blown away
a raven on the roof that said
Disconnect the phone

Turn on the gas
making Oyako Donburi
tears come
cutting up the onions—
the best gift

I crack cold eggs
Whip pour over
boiling napa and chicken broth
close the pot lid
turn off the gas

pour over bowl of rice
feed child—

Empty unmade bed—
a summer river where
I didn’t want to see his body—

one poet said
after his wife’s funeral,
he found a strand of her hair
on the pillow and wept

I made sukiyaki the day my dad died—
I had to feed my children.

Oxtail soup
That’s what Daddy made—
suck out all the dead blood
and boil until broth turns milky—

When I leave
I want to leave beautifully.


Previously published in Paris Press Spiraling Poetry.



Tanya (Hyonhye) Ko Hong, poet, translator and cultural curator, has been published in Rattle, Beloit Poetry Journal, Entropy, Cultural Weekly, Korea Times, Korea Central Daily News, and elsewhere. She has an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently, Mother to Myself, A collection of poems in Korean (Prunsasang Press, 2015). Her poem, Comfort Woman, got honorable mention in the 2015 Women’s National Book Association. Tanya is an ongoing advocate of bilingual poetry, promoting the work of immigrant poets. She lives Palos Verdes, CA. http://www.tanyakohong.com


Photograph by Ryan Hodnett.

One thought on “Oxtail Soup by Tanya Ko Hong

  1. I fell in love with your lines in this! Isn’t it funny that death can cause our entire world to fall apart, yet we still have to make sure our children eat… Your imagery is amazing and you will definitely leave behind something beautiful and touching.


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