I learned to eat with chopsticks
when I was four or five. My father used to pull out the wok
every few months and make us Korean food: fried wontons, eggrolls, fried rice, stir fried vegetables, plenty of soy sauce
. My brother, sisters and I would help make the wontons and egg rolls. I remember the feeling of the dough, soft like powdered baby's skin, and the slickness of the egg that we used to seal those little envelopes of yummy goodness.
That is literally the only positive memory I have of my father, him showing us how to use the egg as paste to seal the egg roll shut, how to drop them in without spattering oil, putting my little fingers into the correct position to pinch the chopsticks, then lift and eat. I still use chopsticks whenever I eat Asian food; it feels cheap somehow to use western utensils with that particular food.
My father served as a DJ in the Korean War, then worked at a radio station and a tv station for a few years after he got home. This all happened before I was born. He never shared any details with me about life before I was around, or about anything else, really. All I saw was a pair of army issue boots in the back of his closet, stumbled upon in the middle of hide-and-seek. My sisters shared their vague memories of going with him to the radio station and him playing their favorite song for them, "Top of the World" by the Carpenters.
He lives 1100 miles away from me now. He doesn't know my address, doesn't know that I love writing poetry, doesn't know that I keep the commandment to "Honor thy father and thy mother" by becoming a good person in spite of him.