Monthly Archives: May 2009

Forming

I am waiting for the subway to Anjirang Station. I am waiting at the Chilsung Market Station. An old woman is walking down the stairs backwards, her body hunched over, one hand on the railing, her head curled into her chest, watching every step. Old women like this work in the markets, selling fruits, vegetables, and fish. They walk with their backs in a horizontal line, the only generous comparison: the sun setting over the horizon of an ocean. The colors blending, finding their way into the deep wrinkles on the faces of these women as they stand in the sand the sun setting over them. When the sun goes under, everything goes dark. The woman is waiting for the subway going toward Ansim Station. She is waiting at the Chilsung Market Station. I stand upright. I lean against the wall. She stands with herself parallel to the ground. A light shines from the tunnel, and the train screeches past us and comes to a stop. The woman and I are on opposite ends. I can only imagine her as I am imagining her now. The doors slide open. People come out or they don’t. The woman and I walk into the subway car. She will get a seat in the elderly passenger area, and if she doesn’t someone will give up his or her seat for her. This is the most likely thing to happen. And I believe this is out of respect rather than out of pity. She may take the seat, or she may refuse it and tell the person to sit back down. In that case, probably no one will take it. The subway arrives in Anjirang. I’ve lost track of the woman. I get off, walk forwards up the stairs, scan my subway card and exit. An hour or so passes. I have done what I came to do. I am back on the subway. I am back at the Chilsung Market Station. I exit the subway like everyone else does: The doors open, people get off, walk forwards up the stairs, or take the escalator (I have never seen anyone walk backwards on an escalator), swipe subway cards, pass through the gate, find your exit and exit up the stairs onto the street. On the street, I see bright words and lights and a cross against the dark sky. Everything has gone dark, except the people and this quiet city. I am walking home. The market is closed, but people are still out, eating and drinking outside. Meat barbequing in the middle of tables. Pork and garlic and onions wrapped in lettuce. Green soju bottles. The bright lights of this side of Daegu. I am walking home.

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A cool night

I stick my head out the window of my one room apartment. The night is cool and pleasant, a nice one for taking a walk even though it’s almost midnight. There is wind, and rain is coming. I will sleep with the windows open. I see Korean written on the side of a building. I can read it, but I don’t understand the meaning of the words. I’m still in South Korea. After nine months, I’m still here.

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