The marsh grass sways side to side in the autumn wind
I grasp at the long blades as they brush between my fingers
I’m not sure where the next step will take me
Urged on by a whim and a lost memory
The river winds into the forest, I follow the trail of mist
The mountains, like clouds floating above the horizon
Don’t seem any closer, no matter how far I go
10,000 miles I’ve traveled
Sometimes on moss but mostly jagged stone
My feet are blistered, my muscles ache
My body covered in grime
Left behind are the lullabies of the spring peepers
In this strange land the screech of cicadas pervades these woods.
I didn’t intend to be so influenced by the traditional poem, but looking at it, it reminded me so much of my experience from early childhood until now. The strongest image I carry of my home is the river winding around the cow field, the farmhouse and into the woods. As I child, I used to draw picture after picture of mountains I’d never actually seen. In East-Asia, “10,000” is a traditional metaphor for countless but my home is actually 10.900 km from Seoul (I liked the sound of the word ‘miles’ better). I’d never seen or heard a cicada before coming to Korea, but their presence definitely doesn’t go unnoticed!
So what have I found after traveling all this way? When you get far enough away, you’re on your way back home…
Really, there’s nothing to go off searching for, the ox hasn’t ever left my side. But because I made ‘here’ then ‘there’ happened and everything got divided in the confusion.
Searching for the Ox
One aimlessly pushes the grasses aside in search.
The rivers are wide, the mountains far away,
And the path become longer.
Exhausted and dispirited.
One hears only the late autumn cicadas
Shrilling in the maple woods.