Eunhang Namu, Danpoong Namu: The Maple Wears Red, The Gingko Wears Yellow
I walked today among the rocks
and foliage of Soraksan
fall filling the air
stopping to eat a bit of gamja buchim
to sip a little makoli with haraboji.
Grandfather passed me the rice wine,
and we ate the potato pancakes as
he told me the story of Sun Nyeo,
who flew back to the stars after
visiting the pool beside our table,
a place in which she chose to bathe
because of its great beauty.
I looked down beside us,
over the rocks, at the cold, crystal
clear water within the basin, in which
a single leaf, red and gold, was
turning in the flow of the stream
as it drifted down from the mountain.
Grandfather and I watched
the birds flying among the branches
of the trees, the red of the maple,
the yellow of the ginko,
the leaves of the cherry turning
from green to gold to red to brown:
our youth spent, the harvest of our labor
the blood of the sacrifice, and finally our return.
I looked up and saw a tree
growing out of the side of the mountain,
out of solid rock, and remembered
the stories told of how a tree that grows
too large will bring itself crashing down
from the burden of its own weight.
As I returned from the mountain,
walking through Buddha’s Gate
I watched halmonee peeling
a persimmon for a young couple
and thought of how years ago
in her youth, this grandmother had paid
an old woman to do the same for her.