In as plain a language as I can muster,
I tell you this.
I wandered out just now to take the garbage out. The
wind was flicking my ears like a grade school bully (plain=figurative)
and I walked by a vent pumping steam from a heating unit. Mixed with the cold air,
it was refreshing. It reminded me of something.
Years ago, an eon perhaps. A Friday afternoon after work, after a few drinks, that Majuang wine
that the storekeeper kept asking about. “Is it good?” she would say and I would nod. Good enough for a Friday afternoon.
We went to your roof, high behind Sajik tunnel, Seodaemun stretched out beneath us. The kindgergarden, that beautiful house with an interior garden, those few remaining bits of the ancient Seoul wall. A perfect picture I never took. I think by that point I had a departure date set. I think it was one of those last times, that last Friday perhaps.
The wind whipped around up there, blowing my hair in face, my tie flickering like a sail. We always looked out over the city perhaps because neither of us wanted to look any closer at that menagerie of the landlord’s underwear on the clothesline. Or his friendly face when he came up to retrieve them.
That, for me, was Korea in a nutshell. And for every day from here to the end, I would be willing trade it for one more Friday afternoon on that roof, watching the sun slowly set over our busy hive, our flags flickering in the dusklight.
I am better here, no doubt about it. But I was something there, too. Something worth remembering in a photograph. A few lines in plain language.
Boy runs between buildings into an alleyway as thin as two pages of a book held between index finger and middle finger.
Boy chases cat into alley.
Alley and cat win as boy’s body is thrown back violently. That bloody, pulpy mass on the pavement is boy. His is alone as we all, too, are alone.
The cat recedes out of alley. It looks up at the two young men looking down from the rooftop. The cat sneers . . . and then walks away.