“The fall was just rightly ripening in this town, at this moment…
and that day I remembered her.” 

My thought often goes back to my paternal grandmother when I watch the mirror in the bathroom, alone in the house, with only my white dog around.

My grandmother was a villain in the family story told by mother when I was a kid. When my older brother made fun of me with any resemblance to my grandmother, I burst into tears with anger for the unfair accusation. As I grew older, however, I could agree with some resemblance in me with her more than any other extended family members.
She had lived on her own for a long time in the rural area where our ancestor’s mountain located, five hours train ride away from the city where most of her family lived. A big land surrounded her house full of persimmon trees. The fruits would show deep orange color from green when the fall harvest was near. The symbol of the fall in Korea like the pumpkins here.
Persimmon was my favorite fruit in my childhood. Once, when I visited there in the late summer, I took bites from all the orange parts of the ripening fruits leaving the green area left still hanging on the trees. I fell asleep in the guest room after my crime and I heard the loud voice of my grandmother blaming my older cousin for the mischievous behavior that I committed. I don’t remember how it ended but I wasn’t the one who got into trouble… I was always an exception from her grumpy bitter lashing words. She wasn’t particularly nice to me, but I knew that her neutral attitude meant the fondness of me over all the grandchildren that she had.

My mother’s hatred of her mother-in-law was deep. We heard all kinds of stories of her evil through my mother but my grandmother was the one who was courageous enough to live alone on her own without any support until her death, sending the boxes of dried persimmons harvested to us every year, and crossed the sea to bring her cheating husband back from Japan who studied abroad and lived with a Japanese woman at the colonial time of Korea. She must have been less than twenty years old at that time when she put herself onto the ship to Japan. She must have not known any Japanese and all she might have to find her husband must have been the address on the envelope that he sent to her. Without her action, I wouldn’t be here. It was before my father was born, so I owe my existence to her bravery.

She was bright but uneducated. It was forbidden for women to go to school and learn at that time, compared to my grandfather who was a highly educated nobleman but having no occupation. Having a job to support the family was a lower-class action for people in the past. The modernization breaking the status system in the past brought lots of confusion in the society, but my grandfather kept the old values, dressed as the traditional nobleman with the many layers of clothes that needed extra care with the long beard and long hair twisted up inside the dyed in black horsetail hat. I remember his funeral done traditionally… I would come back to that memory someday later. I think I am the last generation holding the sensory memory of the things that disappeared over time. Having a husband like my grandfather must have put the family in a very difficult situation. I can only imagine the life that my grandmother had. Maybe this contributed to her stubborn and opinionated attitude, but she was strong and active. Interestingly enough to many people around her, she was a dog lover. She allowed her dog inside the house, which was very rare in Korea at that time and also freaked my mother who had an obsessive fear of germs. She even fed the dog human food from the table and talked in a sweet manner. I could see the obvious mismatch of my grandmother and my mother, but… now, when I look in the mirror, the round big nose like hers greets me in the house where the city is far away, the family is farther away, no relatives around… I think… I must be the one who resembles her the most. And I somewhat like it.

The season changed and I saw the persimmons in an Asian market, the soft orange color of autumn. My index finger touched the surface of my past, my memory… I didn’t buy any… but I smiled when I stepped out the door. The daylight was bright to my eyes… the smile lingered at the corner of my lips. I walked to my car where the car window was down and I saw the wet black nose of my dog peeking out and his fluffy face with his black round eyes when I got close. The fall was just rightly ripening in this town, at this moment… and that day I remembered her.

<November 6th, 2019>


Family and friends.
Flying and failing.
Falling and fire.

The kindle…
I remember that day in front of the fireplace.
The feeling that I felt that day wouldn’t come back again.

What’s falling out there?
What for?
What’s next?

Is there any other spelling that can replace “fire” giving the same feel? The front teeth biting the lower lip? The power, the dance, the glow? The movement that never stops when it’s alive? The enchanting danger calling for intimate proximity but not allowing any touch without severe consequence?

Flame flies up.
So do the dream, the birds, and the fantasy.
My dream has the wings of a phoenix burning up the path that it glides. My eyelids would open up with the ashes when the sun hits the window with a dare of the faint memory of flying… charging the dark night with the glowing power.

Falling and failing are not the same thing as Jack Gilbert insisted.
Falling means that there was once flying. Sometimes, that is enough for one lifetime… just one flight. Flame goes up, fire consumes. When the ashes in the hands, rub on the cheeks drawing the two blocks of straight lines across, glaring the night, remembering the time, the time that I flew close to the moon arching the way back to the earth with the burning feathers.

Fire and falling.
Fire and failing.
Fire and flying… once… in lifetime… my charred face proud in the mirror with the memory of the flame, the memory of the night. The life… flew once.

<October 30th, 2019>


Ordinary and timely… not mine, but I’ve been trying to live for those values. The realization comes late. The change of action comes even a while later than the realization… and I’m here now… breathing quietly.

Everyone is unique in their own way. I know that. But there has been a undeniable difference in me distinguishing from the others beyond individual uniqueness. I recognized early on in my life and it never went away. This follows me wherever I go… right over my shoulder watching me… watching me act upon accordingly. I feel its expectation with a contained excitement trembling behind the closed door,

I’m taking a break now.
I’m sitting. I’m hanging out at this place of my life. Not hastily moving to next… I don’t know what’s next but I know that it will be very different from my past… It will not belong to the realm of the ordinary, or even to normal. One thing for sure is that there will be tremendous beauty that can leap any value or moral that I’ve leaned on.

This town, colored by the diversity but a very monolithic place… I’m staying here for now because it is a good place to ease my breathing for the next round, next journey, next stage of my life with a totally different value that has called on me, waiting for me, looking forward to me acting upon. Soon I’ll be ready for it. Then I’ll miss this town, miss these people, miss all the comfortable things that I have right now.

So this time… the time for me to breathe, sit, watch… hold hands with the people close… this is my nest…. for now.

A Little Flame

Fire… the winter, the early spring… the memories.

Time passes, life changes…. and the person…

There must be an ember in me… that hasn’t died yet. I’m still holding it in me somewhere trying to keep its power to ignite something… something… someday… really… someday.

The shifts and the changes… the newness that surrounds me like new flowers blooming overnight putting their faces close to my eyes… I often don’t know what to feel… I leaped over in the process of the proper aging, the right path to make the time pass by. I jumped from here to there afraid of falling or failing… and I failed in many other ways in life.

This is a comfort. Alone in a room… I cried.
I hated the dried flowers. The tree of life… everywhere in this town… the town smells like the glass of specialty beer on the counter untouched overnight after a few sips.

The good old musicians… all died… those I’m still listening to, those still have the power to make me break into tears like an unknown spasm coming at midnight.
Let me keep my small fire that will flame up someday like a big campfire on the beach on a hot summer day that young people would dance around without shame…the sound of crackling wet firewood by the heat…the sparkles when the fire gazes up to the sky and flies to there… ah, my life… here and now, landing like an angel’s last feather… let me keep them… let me keep it… until the time comes.

There were the rocks… the big rocks… I jumped from one to another, juggling many things in my hands. And I did it well.
Let me drop my arms now. Let me watch the ground, the path, the earth, the people… instead of looking at the things in my hands and continuously moving not to drop any. Let everything fall once and for all. I want to sit now.  I want to sit for a moment. And I want to use my hands to take out the little flame inside my chest and look at it. Look at it for a while… a little dance of this red… the red… like fresh blood oozing out from a cut… let me watch it for a moment… to remember where I left it, to think how I can start… my legs are dangling up high where I’m sitting… on a giant orange rock… the sky is too blue for the landscape. Let it be this way for now.

<October 27th, 2019>

Shedding the Old

I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time. I haven’t asked for any help.

The sun is bright, the leaves started to fall.
I’m glad. I’m glad watching the shedding, taking off the old, allowing space, the sky, the stars.

I’ve been done well until now. I did an excellent job. It’s me who has carried myself this far. And it will be me who will carry myself from now on… I’ll be just fine. It’s time to lose the one layer that’s old and doesn’t fit me anymore.