kimchi of here

That’s not real kimchi.
    -is how my gut reacts to non-Korean-made kimchi.
I roll my eyes at fusion tacos but I’ll try them.
They taste good.
My clinging to authenticity tinged with neoliberalism or nostalgia?
Hye-won is the name my grandfather gave me,
    but it’s not recorded in any legal document.
All the Hangul I know I learned on Saturdays when I was 10.
My working mom says,
Why make kimchi when you can buy it at the market?

Some years ago I asked my grandma to teach me.
In her apartment in Reseda
I ask her,
Halmuni- are you a Korean person or an American person?
Her index finger bent from arthritis at 91 still steady slicing mu.
      Korea is there and I am here-
        Na nun yeogi saram.
      I am a person of here.

With practice my radish slices become matchsticks-
Even mom is impressed.
Nuoc mam sauce instead of salted shrimp?
Agave or blended apple pear for sweetness?

I palm the cabbage with one hand
Tuck the radish mixture between the leaves,
    wrapping the last one around like a belt.
There is the taste you know on your tongue
And the taste you make by your hand, son mat.
I translate and transpose the taste I know by heart.

Grace Hwang is a multidisciplinary artist and educator engaging in muscle memory and cultural memory through performance and socially engaged practice. Her work has been shown at Highways Performance Space (LA), Hammer Museum, Performance Works Northwest (OR), Portland Art Museum, Open Engagement Conference (OR), Southern Exposure (SF), and Museum of Modern Art Education Center (NY), among others. She resides in her hometown, Los Angeles and is currently the Studio Artist in Residence at Camera Obscura Art Lab in Santa Monica. cargocollective.com/gracejoannehwang/about-gracejoannehwang