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[Web Exclusive] A Poetry Reading by Poet Jin Eun-young "After That Day"

  • onSeptember 2, 2019
  • byKorean Literature Now

 

 

After That Day

 

Dad, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I was born so tiny, just over two kilograms.

Sorry I’ve stayed around you for such a short time, too brief to reach twenty years old.

 

Mom, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for not charging my cell phone when I went to the academy at night.

Sorry I couldn’t contact you for a week when I got back from the ship this time.

 

Granny, I’m sorry to make you cry more than all the tears of the past years.

So sorry, I couldn’t show you my life ripening warmly and tenderly

cooking a pancake with you.

 

Dad, Mom, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry to make it rain like tears on my dad’s tired head.

Dad, I’m sorry to make the wind blow in a sad whisper to you.

Mom, I’m sorry to keep you wearing black shirts all the time when all the colors of fall fit you so well.

 

Mom, there’s a gentle cloud here that carries me like my dad’s broad back.

Here, the sunlight is fluttering warm through the clouds like a ribbon worn by friends, here the same scarlet sun sets in.

 

There’s a hammock hanging between two pillars of your memory, Mom and Dad.

If I lie in that hammock and take a nap

I am still a child with chubby cheeks, running my fingers through hair behind my coy ears.

A child of Mom and Dad, both vigorous, cheering up among the largest families of the greatest grief.

 

Dad, I have friends here.

I have friends who tell me things like this.

“Your eyes, without double eyelids, are so pretty when they quietly become round.”

“You have such a sweet voice,

Your straight hair shines like the starlight on the water.”

 

Dad! Mom! Do you remember the song I sang with my friends sitting on a bench with cherry blossoms falling around?

I am with a boy who plays guitar well and girls who sing well.

I am with cats with super-soft fur like touching music.

I am with Mom’s night company and my pink hand mirror.

I am with my fair face, seventeen years old reflected in the mirror, we’re all here together and happy.

 

Dad, don’t be sad if I can’t visit you often in your dreams because I’m busy playing with my friends.

Dad, don’t wake up at 3:00 a.m. and keep looking at my picture.

Dad, don’t get upset even if I get to like my friends here too much.

 

Mom, if Dad gets upset, please give him a tight hug instead of me.

Ha-eun, my sister, if Mom feels sad, please give her a tight hug instead of me.

Sung-eun, if Ha-eun feels sad, please make your favorite lemonade for her.

Ji-eun, if Sung-eun feels sad, sing a song for her instead of me.

Dad, if Ji-eun feels sad, please carry her up on your back lightly instead of me.

Auntie, embrace the tired shoulders of Mom and Dad.

Friends, wipe away my family’s tears.

 

Thanks, Ha-eun, my twin sister.

Thank you so much for coming into the world, holding hands with me.

Let us, I here, and you there, protect Mom, Dad, and our sisters.

I will be happy as long as you are happy.

I will be loved as much as you are loved.

You understand that, right?

 

Dad, Dad!

I am a rainbow-like child that rises behind a great flood of grief.

Thank you for making me one of the coolest names in the sky.

Mom, Mom!

Thank you for singing the song of truth,

the clearest song among the songs I hope to sing.

 

Mom and Dad, thank you for loving me more after that day.

Mom and Dad, thank you for loving me so dearly.

Mom and Dad, I am Ye-eun,1 a child of two persons who walk for me, who starve for me, who shout and fight for me,

who want to live as the most sincere and honest mom and dad in this world.

I am Ye-eun of all of us, the forever beloved child, even after that day.

Today is my birthday.

 

  1. Yoo Ye-eun was a second-year student at Danwon High School in Ansan who died in the Sewol ferry disaster on April 16, 2014. On October 15, Ye-eun’s parents, three sisters, and her friends gathered at the space named “Healing” in Ansan city and held Ye-eun’s seventeenth birthday party. It was also the birthday of Ha-eun, Ye-eun’s twin sister. On behalf of Ye-eun who couldn’t attend the birthday party, poet Eun Young Jin recited the story of Ye-eun through this poem.

 

translated by Eun-Gwi Chung