for Geun-Ae Park
It’s what they do at her Korean temple
when something is amiss with the spirit:
kneel, bend head to rug,
lift hands palms up
then stand again,
like a river flowing backward,
before falling forward once more
on your knees
in a smooth wave.
She will do this a thousand times
to expiate the anger in her breast
at her professor, who makes her work
long hours in the laboratory
who shouts at her,
takes credit for her research—the man
she tries not to hate.
If she bows a thousand times
he will shrink in the waves of worship
that wash her soul.
It takes twelve hours
to bow away the man
who tries to bend her
to his will.