- A Bird, and: Insu Peak, and: Sehando: Winter Landscape, and: The Well, and: Rice Soup, and: A Shooting Star, and: Longing for Buseok-sa Temple, and: I Love You, and: Ants, and: How to Eat
A bird died. When we cremated it on an oak-wood pyre a sari jewel emerged—merely from a bird’s body. On sacred Mount Gaya, winter snow fell, heaps on heaps, and people came flocking like birds, eager to venerate the jewel.
To look up even when the other does not. To wait even when the other does not. To climb up even when the other does not.
To meet even when the other does not. To climb down even when the other does not. To crumble even when the other does not.
Can one be anything but sorrowful? Can one be anything but sorrowful?
When people are in love they know nothing of love; it’s only when love is all over that suddenly they look up at Insu Peak. [End Page 75]
sehando : winter landscape
All winter long I went wandering through Seoul looking for Father. Some said they had seen him in a back alley near Yeongdeungpo Station, and others at a soup kitchen near Cheongnyangni Station. Before coming home, I went to the vagrants’ ward of East Seoul City Hospital and saw numerous sick vagrants die there each day. And now I kneel before Father’s empty room. An old pine tree stands pure under falling snow. The wind is icy, the moon feels bitter cold. The pine tree’s branches are overburdened with snow. Beside the faded photo of Father, taken in his youth after rice planting was done, hangs Kim Jeong-hui’s Sehando into which one bird flies and perches, frozen cold.
Strolling along, I came upon a well. Someone had thrown into it the daytime crescent moon. Coming closer, I looked into the well again. I saw my mother boarding a train alone carrying a bundle of mugwort rice cake on her head. I started to walk away but turned back and looked into the well again. Instead of working at a sewing machine under the faint fluorescent lights of Peace Market you were staring up at me. I jumped into the well to meet you. Mother undid her bundle and handed me a few pieces of mugwort rice cake. There was no sign of you, only the sound of someone somewhere working at a sewing machine.
Peace Market was a sweatshop garment district in Seoul after the Korean War.
Living in the world where men live, I eat ox-head rice soup; in the world where oxen live, the oxen eat man-head rice soup. [End Page 76]
a shooting star
A shooting star falls into the night of the painting Dream Journey to the Peach Blossom Land. The man sitting hunched and weeping in the painting slowly stands and picks up the shooting star. Hey there, throw that star at me, please. I want to die struck by that star.
longing for buseok-sa temple
Love until you die. Why else would Vairocana sit there, hanging by a finger? Wait until you die. Why else would Amitābha cut off his head for a pillow? Dawn has passed but the iron bell announcing the offering of rice has yet to ring. Sitting for a lifetime before the banner posts of Buseok-sa I could never offer you one bowl of rice. In tears I build a temple then tear it down, I build a temple atop a rock flying in the sky.
i love you
I am walking along a road holding a rice bowl. Feeling thirsty, with my finger I write “I love you” on a river, then drink some water. Suddenly dark clouds gather, then rain pours down for days on end. Muddy water comes rushing down. The wild violets bow their heads in pain. After the rain, the violets on the riverbank raise their heads and gaze down at the water. A young corpse comes floating down, then catches...