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Growing things , Pseudo Pompous

If I close my eyes, I can see myself. I am sitting in the car. “Maam? Can you hear me?” It is a man’s voice. I do not open my eyes I do not try to see him. “We are going to have to remove the door. Are you okay?”

“Yes, I am fine.” I answer. I am awake. I stay still. I do not pay attention to the sounds. I can see myself in the car waiting. I am not in pain. I can feel them, hands taking me out of my seat. I know in my mind they are putting me on a stretcher. The medic puts a neck brace on me. I think he asks me, “Can you tell me your name?” I answer easily, rhetorically. Then I add, “I just left my son at basketball practice.” My mind is moving. I need to have someone pick him up. I am aware, but also not. I am sitting in the back of my brain in the darkness. We drive to the hospital and I can hear the siren. I am thinking about my son. He is 12. His brother eighteen months younger is at home alone. …


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Dragon night shade

It would be funny my older siblings would say.

There were six of us. Three Korean adoptees and three White children. Three boys and three girls. The first born my oldest sister was babysitting all of us as she did sometimes. She is six years my senior, so the pecking order went girl 12, girl,11, boy 9, boy 7, girl 6, boy 5. My youngest brother was five? And perhaps not a year since his re-homing as he came to us from a family in Texas. They had adopted him and decided they could not keep him. My adoptive mother would say they abandoned him, and he was found on the street. I am not sure of the veracity of this story. Recently, during the Pandemic I took to calling my Adoptive father regularly. I decided I would ask him questions about his life, about our history. I recall with great regret not having asked his mother, my grandmother, Catherine Herzel, about her extra-ordinary life born in the early 1900’s, as the daughter of a solicitor, the loss of her mother at a young age, attending college, being the wife of a Lutheran Minister and a published writer. I grew up too late to know to ask her and unfortunately, at this stage my Adoptive father’s memory is elusive. He did not remember when I asked about the day I came to the US, but he did remember getting my brother. He recalled that he flew down to Texas and brought a red truck with him. …


how Cinderella lost her other slipper

Today is World Adoptee day or Adoption day. How you phrase it matters. Is it a day for Adoptees to celebrate? Yeah you lost your family, but you got a new one. Be honored? You were an orphan, but now you aren’t. Or perhaps you weren’t really an orphan as some who do birth searches find out. Be remembered? Yes, in the United States as Adoptees you are killing yourselves 4 times more than others. But wait that was Suicide Awareness month, are we not supposed to mention that now? Or is it World Adoption day? Yes, you can be legally imported, at some cost to a family that has no knowledge of your culture, may often suppress or demonize it and then, may actively hide your biological history. Let’s celebrate! Yes, I know the alternate narrative, “Thank God” with a capital G..insert….justification, …


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Mary from the Bamberg Cathedral in Germany

I stand here folding laundry and the quiet of the house fills the space around me like fresh water in a fish tank. The water is not fresh though. It is a return to the familiar silence of myself, expanding into the room and the adjustment of my body once more becoming the house.

I can hear my son S. laughing in his room with his friend on the computer. He is 15 today and the expletives coming from his deep voice check the time. My other son is down in his cave. His cave, the man cave is where what is left of our library. My husband and I once had cases filled with books collected over the years of our becoming, but through two large household moves it has been pared down to what cannot be parted with. Each book is a window to our former selves and the worlds we traversed before we were married added to the ones we collected before we became parents. The man cave is where my son and his father have work/play desks. Where sleepover’s and Dungeons and Dragons games are held. It is a basement that is not a basement as it is on the first floor, banked against the earth of the hill our house sits on. …


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I have not taken the tree down yet. It is January 11, 2021 and my tree and all the trimmings still stand all lit. On the first of the year, my hubby via fb chat admonished me, hurling accusations of being low class, of being lazy. It is not time, yet I think. I am enjoying looking at the ornaments that stay hidden locked away all year. Each one is a memory box for which I hold all the keys from the earliest hand painted ornaments on our first tree 21 years ago to the most recent pink reindeer.

On the first of the year, my new years eve, he had cold symptoms. They had begun on the 30th. He was in his apartment on Mars with work closed. By that Sunday it was clear he had been exposed to COVID-19. He traced exposure to Christmas. His symptoms began 7 days later. He took his temperature every day twice a day, no fever. Remember that no fever. He had a foggy brain, cold symptoms, sore throat, and tiredness. He needed to be tested. He needed food and supplies to maintain quarantine. None of this was offered. “You need fruits and vegetables, vitamins” I urged. …


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Two days and Chance

Picture me, an awkward Adopted Korean girl, dyed, permed, and overly made up. It was the eighties and I wore off color foundation with too much eye shadow, always insecure about sprinklings of acne and the Asiatic smallness of my eyes. At the time I had very few illusions about American and even Korean standards of beauty. I was by American suburban social standards average, neither distinguishingly beautiful like my best friend with her almost Polynesian bone structure, large eyes, and full lips, or “stereotypically” unattractive like the non-descript, overly full faced Asians with thick prescription black rimmed glasses. …


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Every month or so or right before one of my sons’ birthdays, I take my children to the local Han Ah Reum. As a Korean American Adoptee this is the extent of their Korean cultural transmission. My sons now three and five, don’t have a palate for Korean food yet, but I can usually find something sweet in Korean packaging. Thus they gain the cultural identity experience of walking in a mini-mall if only for a half hour filled with Koreans. It was on one of these pilgrimages that my family and I were solicited by a Korean Church lady. She greeted us with a very happy face and said, “Oh, you have two sons.very good, very good .” She gave us some literature about her church and two packets of tissues with writing advertising the church. …


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I am huddled quietly in the room I share with my sister and my brother, all three of us adoptees from Korea. “She said she won’t spank you,” My sister and brother whispered. “You can just tell her you did it and none of us will get in trouble.” I was 4 maybe 5. My sister was 9 perhaps 10. Was she really that old? I don’t recall that. Someone had done something wrong. She; my mother was unhappy. She was always unhappy about something. I don’t recall what it was. I do know I had not done whatever it was. Someone would need to confess or all of us, was it three of us or six, would be spanked. I would do it. …


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The opening was at the PAFA ( The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts) museum, circa 1993, I don’t recall the show, but it was my first one as a Certificate student. I had signed up at a table pouring drinks. He worked the table with me, opening wine bottles. Dressed in the uniform black and white, his white shirt was buttoned too tightly as were his pants. Still, he was attractive, and we started up an easy banter, which is his way. I found him annoyingly charming and rewarded him with sardonic depreciating humor, which was my way. At 25 living in the city of men I was well guarded and prided myself in castrating humor. This did not get me many dates, but that was the point. He would later recount my behavior with disapproval and yet he was still disappointed to find at the end of the night I had gone out with some other students. …


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25 years ago, O.J. and the White Ford Bronco went on the run. It was a first date night, my boyfriend who later became my husband and I were on our way to go see Spike Lee’s, Do the Right Thing. The picture on the t.v. in my living room is the only movie that plays in my memory of that night. 25 years later I am re-watching the footage on the t.v. in my Plymouth Meeting hotel at breakfast. Following that story, I see footage of a Philadelphia police officer talking about the weekend. I am distracted by his uniform and get caught in the memory of my husband, 14 years in blue. I am comforted by the familiarity of the badge and my memories. I then realize that I have less than 10 pictures of him in that uniform and perhaps none of the two of us. I realize this will be a loss if we ever have grandchildren. There is so little visual evidence to trace. Later, when I am heading back to Virginia I will hear what was muted on the t.v. in the hotel. The Police Commissioner was accounting for the weekend’s 19 shootings and the loss of six lives. Gone are the days of fistfights and bats. Smart phones and guns; prosthetics of the handi-capable give liberty new meaning. …

About

A.D. Herzel

Artist, teacher,mother and wife, adoptee; writer about all of the above. https://www.instagram.com/pseudopompous/

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