Leaving Seoul: 1953
We have to bury the urns, Mother and I. We tried to leave them in a back room, Decoyed by a gas lamp, and run out But they landed behind us here, at the front gate. It is 6th hour, early winter, black cold: Only, on the other side of the rice-paper doors The yellow ondol stone-heated floors Are still warm. I look out to the blue Lanterns along the runway, the bright airplane. Off the back step, Mother, disorganized As usual, has devised a clumsy rope and shovel To bury the urns. I wonder out loud how she ever became a doctor. Get out, she says Go to your father: he too Does not realize what is happening. You see, Father is waiting at the airfield in a discarded U. S. Army Overcoat. He has lost his hat, lost His father, and is smoking Lucky's like crazy. . . We grab through the tall weeds and wind That begin to shoot under us like river ice. It is snowing. We are crying, from the cold Or what? It is only decades Later that, tapping the cold, glowing jars, I find they contain all that has made The father have dominion over hers.
Copyright © 2002 by Walter K. Lew. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press. All rights reserved.
Walter K. Lew
Walter K. Lew is a Korean American poet and scholar who is the author of Treadwinds: Poems and Intermedia Works (Wesleyan University Press, 2002), winner of the Asian American Literary Award for Poetry. He currently teaches at the University of Miami.
Date Published: 2002-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/leaving-seoul-1953