Night Bus to Gwangju
I observe through glass that also doubles me, each glare
that gleams a halo through the window steam. It used to
_____________A hanging lantern, like a
bell tolling in the night. A single bulb
In the distance more blips
plot the constellations of civilization.
A strobe that floods a frosty field.
Two neon crosses, one illuminated red,
a higher one shining white;
And hanging above a gap, accounting
for a mountain, facing downward
in prostration like the moon, to bathe
a frozen cabbage bed
_____________in an amber hue of light.
What has been fashioned on this peninsula
of grief? Everyone I travel with
bows to tiny screens.
세월Sewol (The Passing of Time)
The sinking of the Sewol Ferry occurred on 16 April 2014 en route to Jeju from Incheon. The South Korean ferry capsized while carrying 476 people, mostly students from Danwon High School in Ansan City, South Korea. As of today, 271 have died, 35 are still missing.
The surface of the Han River is the green of milky tea in the moment
I watch through the bottom of a subway car door crossing north to south
on a steel bridge above flowing with ripples so evenly dispersed I think
of the type of kindness remembered long beyond knowing how a person’s
life ever merged with mine to begin with and I want to tell
the woman standing next to me about this sort of kindness
but I can’t say it in Korean if it is true that I can even speak
of such a feeling at all so I just continue looking down
at the water because I know that eventually this train
will reach the other side of the river and return
to the darkness underground & as my gaze is fixed
on the water I am unable to imagine it filling the lungs
of a young body until there is nothing flowing into the arteries nothing like what
has always allowed her to so effortlessly
step into a new day turning down a side street
towards the school gate Eyes * Blinking * Blinking *
at the brightness of the glare of light beaming
from the playground slide
Editor’s Note: The “________” have been added to preserve the author’s line spacing, and were not the original intentions of the author.
Ash Dean is a father, poet and educator. He grew up in Ferguson, Missouri and currently lives in Ansan, South Korea. He is an MFA graduate of The International Writing Program at City University of Hong Kong. Ash is the author of Cardiography from Finishing Line Press. His work has appeared in Amethyst, Cha, Drunken Boat, Foreign, Gravel, Ma La, Mason’s Road, Red Coyote, Re:locations, Soul-Lit, Speechless, and in the anthology Afterness: Literature from the New Transnational Asia. He is the editor of Transpacificism.