A Winter Letter, Part Six by Cha Jung-mee

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Melanie Steyn

Photography provided by the 5.18 Memorial Foundation

A Winter Letter, Part Six by Cha Jung-mee

In May when spring rain falls
I think of you on Kumnam-ro Street.
Like the bitter anger of that day,
the rainfall strikes—
and I receive it with my heart, my forehead, my whole body.
I think of you,
a robust young man of 22.
When the rain stops, the sky is high again,
and red pansies in front of Provincial Hall
bloom in groups
as in May of that year.
But when I recall you, fresh like green bamboo,
time flowing into oblivion doesn’t scare me.
You whom I picture in my heart
are not sorrowful.
Are you alive or dead?
Your father’s sighing
is not painful.
Alive, perhaps you must be somewhere in this land.
Soo-ok, your sister,
who wandered as if crazy, searching for you,
is today heading for Mangwol cemetery,
holding tear-like baby’s breath to her heart.
don’t ever leave this street,
even if you become a spirit floating
somewhere above Hak-dong District,
Chungjang-ro Street, or Daein-dong District.
You, the upright green bamboo,
living verdant on this street,
should watch–
the sighing that burdens the  ground
and the pain that breaks the heart
are not just rising from your father
who shared his blood with you,
and of your sister Soo-ok.

겨울 편지6/ 차정미

봄비 내리는 오월
금남로에서 너를 생각한다
그날의 사무친 원한이듯
때리는 빗발
가슴으로 이마로 온몸으로 받으며
22세의 푸른 청년
너를 생각한다
비가 개이면 하늘은 다시 높아지고
도청 앞 붉은 팬지꽃
그해 오월처럼
무리지어 피어나도,
청대처럼 풋풋한 너의 모습 그리면
망각으로 흐르는 세월이 무섭지 않다
가슴으로 그리는 너의 모습
슬픔이 아니다
죽었는가 살았는가
너의 아버지 한숨소리
아픔이 아니다
살아 하마 이 땅 어디에 있으리
널 찾아 미치듯 헤매던
너의 누나 수옥이
오늘은 눈물 같은 안개꽃 가슴에 안고
망월동 묘지로 간다
학동 충장로 대인동 어디
또도는 넋이 되어도
끝끝내 이 거리 떠나지 마라
땅 꺼지는 듯 한숨
가슴 찢어지는 아픔이
너에게 피를 나눠 준 너의 아버지,
너의 누나 수옥이 몫이 아님을
푸른 너
이 거리 푸르게 살아
지켜보아야 하리

Cha Jung-mee (1958- ) was born in Bosung, Jeollanamdo. She made her literary debut with her publication on The Sijo Literature in 1983.

1 thought on “A Winter Letter, Part Six by Cha Jung-mee

  1. I, m from Manipur, india. I love poetry very much. I come across korean poetry after watching a few korean series. I wanted read more. This piece is very overwhelmingly beautiful, it shows the agony as well as the pride of the poet. Expecting more of these

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