Daddy, you always wake up at that hour.
Not in my time zone, but in the deceased’s time zone, at that hour.
Daddy, a new daddy showed up
like the way you whisper inside my crying.
His close-cropped hair was as wintry as the dawn and
his buttocks were smaller than cherries, poking the well of my tears.
Is it Daddy? No, bird. Is it bird?
No, a face, like snow flurries, like white flour that I stir with my hand.
My face vanishes after bird lands on it and takes off.
Only the quiet echoes of adverbs or absence of adverbs
remain in the spot where my face was.
I’m whitish like life that disappears even before it has a name.
My head becomes empty like the North Pole made of paper.
I cover my eyes with my right arm and swoon
on Verona Cathedral’s cold floor.
I thought it was that hour again.
Daddy, your time of death is 11.
Daddy, I had a premonition of your death at 4 in the morning.
I shouted, Daddy! out the window in my dream.
One bird flew by.
Bird’s neck was creepy like the night bus driver’s neck—somehow it was like yours,
Everyone gathered at the cathedral lights a candle for each of the deceased
and sings Assumption of Mary.
Today is National Liberation Day in Korea.
Like water leaking from the ceiling.
Cold birds
one by one.
Daddy, you’re a tiny coat, the size of my palm.
You’re wearing a little overcoat like the ones newborns are dressed in.
You endure the coldness of death
like a tiny, shrunken life
Daddy, when your delirium begins the Korean War starts up again.
Daddy, you always crawl onto the battlefield, carrying a shotgun
The blanket falls down from your bed and,
Daddy, your candle keeps flickering in the trenches of whichever side.
Mommy’s a nursing officer, and I’m a medic.
We charge toward the screaming soldier.
Mommy and I kept asking you,
Daddy, do you know who I am?
Daddy, do you know who I am?
Daddy who has forgotten nouns and verbs answered,
Already earlier already earlier,
shouting only the adverbs again,
already earlier already earlier.
I leave the cathedral and pull a suitcase as noisy as an ambulance, with my left hand, then my right, back and forth. What’s inside my bag? Are you in there, Daddy? Tiny Daddy wrapped in white paper, like a gift wrapped in North Pole.
Daddy, when the little overcoat that brings you wherever flutters
the rippling landscape that has lost its owner and its weight follows me.
After we are all dead
the world
left only with adverbs
enfolds me.
In between already and earlier.
(Translated by Don Mee Choi)