A Strange 경험 on the Bus Home

By Kyle Wardwell, a second-year ETA in Naju

Anna Yamamuro, “Snow Day,” Cheonan
Feel the dried salt on my faceTitle. 경험 — gyeongheom, experience
Sudden awareness of stacked winter clothes and now
The world is changed
Sweat again
Slips down,
I feel it in my hair

Five people scurry onto the bus,
Their figures like burly bears
An empty seat beside me true but
truly a
Foreign barrier
My frazzled appearance doesn’t help

Four hours back
Grad school apps flipping brain pancakes
A bungee cord
In and out of restaurant conversations
Thoughts of deadlines and
Opportunities for friendship build a little
Breeze slips through a crack in the window

Nicole Simineri, “Sea View,” Busan
Three, the places I find myself in-
-variably all the puzzle pieces fall
Into places
I’ve traveled many times before
Rivers crossed too many times to
Count on, count on, I am being
Counted on
In this relay, the final leg
My legs carry me forward
Sickness passed through speaking tests
Me, myself, I ache, the misemŏnji,1 it rejects1. 미세먼지 — fine dust
My pace, my race, I breathe hard and struggle but
open the stubborn window fully

Two co-teachers
Reside in this light province.22. 광주 — Gwangju, derived from the hanja 光州
Its light problems seem to pass
Quickly, yet
Changes will come, have gone, my intentions tried
and true, but often miss
The mark, language troubles abound at times
can’t quite impart the haekshim33. 핵심 — main idea
But heck
Shim is retiring, some parts of my life retired when
The venture of morning calm began,
Quote me
The usual routines
Annual means, are so similar a second
stands still
for no one

Nicole Simineri, “Snow,” Seoul
One second difference
Between first and second,
A and B,
Old and new me,
My students are familiar, this school unchanged
But my feelings rearranged and pushed
The distance between my abilities and memories
Grows new life, takes new victims and
Nothing lasts forever, bittersweet gains
Like chains I
Remember ETAs gone by, some who took
This exact bus ride
Outside the river chides
“The race you ran was fine” but
almost won
One second, the difference and

Nicole Simineri, “Angles,” Seoul
The number of rooftops that come
Billowing through the window
Perilous stargazing shingles strip the
And the air konggi44. 공기 — air
A strong key
Unlocking memr’ies of home
A rare reminder
Raring to rain a bit of
On my parade-
-ing thoughts of times gone bi-
-focal visions, the near and distant past-
ures appear greener on the other side
But these
Transient as the spaces we occupy here
As the same sky we share
As the too cold breeze
Now washing through the layers that stack upon
My shoulders, a weight so heavy my
Arms give out and
The window