Even as I scoop Korean sushi
into my mouth with a trembling hand,
the train forces the fields of summer into my eyes.
The light-green rice paddies prick my pupils.
Why is the field so green?
No, the word “green” is hardly adequate.
Every shade of green is said to be the same,
but to me light green is different—
a color containing a wave or a rustle
that never bows its head.
Look at the pure rice plants.
Why is my heart so dark?
I swallow a fourth piece of Korean sushi
and moan. The sunlight washes over me until I fade out,
as it will fade out at dusk,
and tears overcome me—the minimum requirement
for emotion to circulate in my body.
Like juice, light green gathers in my eyes.
Well, I must have left something in that light.
The train runs through the summer fields in the afternoon.
Translation of “Yeondue Ulda.” Copyright Ra Heeduk. Translation copyright 2007 by Won-Chung Kim and Christopher Merrill. All rights reserved.
Read the author’s “Scale and Stairs.”