with a 25 years old map of Jeju yellowing at the corners which he navigates in his head 대사님 determined as a child to fit a cubed block in the prism slot pointed in the direction of his memories & we followed. not before explaining that the area he has pointed out has changed.
today: to the mountain topped with snow. i warned the weather would be different. snow chains are no simple matter. they snap off & leave you stranded in a patch of ice the scent of hot rubber stuck in your snout. in freezing temperatures. got down. he sings old songs. inched it. cautious as a bird returning to a fresh kill that traffic frightened it off from devouring warm & still twitching (which we saw yesterday). he sings old songs. stroll in a snowy oasis. always quick. always with the next memory simmering & prepared to be plucked. noodles in thick warm broth way after lunch then a sit in the sun. camelia floating as they wither to death & koi in inviting cold water like stout. waterfalls. ducks in love from China & eel in deep water where cinnamon trees grow. he sings old songs. something significant about the number 3 he told me. Asian tourists who look at me like i’m a movie star. sun as deep as the well spring of the heart in good clement climate. a lot of gasping. he sings old songs.
a poem written last year in March when i visited 대사님
where is the world?
between the valley’s hips mist squeezes like sand
funneling down the neck of an hour glass,
counting down our lives in water drops.
for now the world down there is gone.
it cannot touch me. i cannot know for certain it is even there.
& all the finches, the chiffchaff chuckling the sun up,
must be chuckling at something.
& all the other finches, the bull, the rose, the green
in their own time come to the walnut tree
to contribute a single peck to rake away the rheum
so everything is clear, regardless so much mist below.
age has added more crow’s feet to 대사님’s temples,
he more & more resembles dried lotus roots
arranged ornately in painted cups, suggestive of something
: a myth of preservation,
or should we give that right to cabbages fomenting
in red pepper paste, ginger, garlic & eel
mixed in clay pots a child could sleep inside, beneath the earth?
this time of year frogs reenact the biblical plague,
romping in the lotus pond filling with their spawn,
ribbiting their lusty ballads in all directions dawn to dusk
– a colony of lovers busy with the continuity of themselves.