i took the hound out today, not unlike any other day when the rain doesn’t lash down on the island, but is carried off on great blasts of wind that ferry everything in its arms. the wind today was severe & sharp, felt like i was in a knife chase & i was losing ground. the cloud massed like buckets of garlic & i experimented with monochrome. the ambidextrous weather impelled a vital effort on my part to use that monochrome setting on my camera, vital, because i have been putting it off, terrified of everything looking like an early Wes Anderson movie, because this is Jeju, not Wes Anderson, Jeju! home of rust, the wind at its source, the sea & sky, salted houses & agents of the weather, more Jim Jarmusch or Kim Ki Duk than Anderson.
here’s a poem i wrote in Spring which appeared at PoetHead sometime after then or in that season, i don’t remember too well, but still very pleased to have been given a place in the PoetHead archives.
i republish this poem because i wrote it on a day much like today, in the same spot i took the photos of my dog & the gulls.
gulls bathe & fish in temporary rock pools
near the recycling spot in Ongpo village. i wonder
if the dead mermaids of old Jeju are reincarnate as gulls?
whether they thank the wind for bringing morsels of food to them?
have they returned to the place they liked to forage abalone,
where they taught their children how to recite the poems of the sea
& laced three times a day their soups with shell fish & sea weed?
in the translucent pools objects that don’t belong to the sea
but the sea has made ornate on its potter’s wheel
lie like artifacts whose worth is waiting to be recycled.
you can hardly recognize shards of green bottles,
broken, budget china plates, the flutes & spouts of blue vases
& their bases with the artists name erased by the currents.
however a saucepan lid, the nipple of its handle.
a rusty tobacco tin with mushed up cigarettes inside.
a bottle of washing up liquid. a cement bag collecting shells & kelp
go unchanged. no matter
the hours the mad sea potter clocks in.