corn lattes and street bouquets: thoughts on living cross-culturally and writing poems

Our local Starbucks sells corn lattes now. The advertisement caught my eye at the register this morning, “Made with real corn!” (and topped with whipped cream) it specified. In the picture it looked…yellow. The real corn kernels were highlighted floating next to the ice. The whole thing was hard to process at first before I read the description. It’s bizarre to my western palate, but it makes sense here. I kind of want to try it.

This afternoon the kids and I left the post office and crossed the blazing crosswalk just so we could check out the unruly bouquet of zinnias on the other side of the road. The flowers waited on the sidewalk like a temporary exhibit housed between the constants of the tiny shoe repair shop and a couple of blue plastic chairs. I smiled so big and snapped photos like I had unearthed something spectacular, as if I had discovered zinnias for the very first time.

My favorite thing about living cross-culturally is that it wakes me up and forces me to pay attention. All of my senses are constantly saturated in the unfamiliar but at the same time extremely alert to what I’ve always known. This tension is where I find beauty and therapy and poetry. This baptism into newness has caused me to adjust my thinking, re-posture my prayer, and ultimately depend more on Jesus.

The longer I live overseas, the more I write poetry. And the more I write poetry, the more obvious it becomes that the ordinary and the sacred are forever intertwined.

I see this in the slippery starch of a potato, in the water on a lotus leaf.

Even in a corn latte, which is my favorite kind of poem. One about the beauty of preferences and differences, the known and unknown.

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