Have you really gone?

Your side of the bed is empty
but I imagine you’re in the hospital.
When I eat at the table alone
I would think you are not yet hungry.
At the funeral, I was dressed in black greeting mourners
Like an actress playing my part in the scene.

I have no tears
I have no thoughts
My mind is stunned as if hit by a boulder

After 3 months and 10 days
I begin to feel as though you must
have left my side.

Your favourite chair facing the backyard is empty
While I am watching tv or reading the paper
I would love to ask you a question
but there is no-one there to answer,
so you must be gone.

After sunset,
darkness permeates everywhere.
I feel my heartache and loneliness

It feels like I cannot breathe as I walk around the family room and
I can see you clearly in my mind.
Feeling the smothering sadness
I take a deep breath.

Where you are buried, the mound of red soil has settled
little by little each time I come.
The snow has melted and earth has softened
One day on May 19, Victoria day,
It was covered with grass

Naked earth covered by a green blanket of grass,
I think you will no longer be cold.
My heartache returns as I think,
It would be hard for you to get out.

Next time I go, the shiny bronze memorial marker has been laid
Your name on the left,  my name on the right
Under your name, your birth date and date you passed away.
As you had said, like a signpost for those of the “other town”
Like a shiny soldier’s medal, worn proudly after war

The words cast into the marker read

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

“Seoul National University, Department of Korean Literature, Class 88.”
“Sweet dreams, until we meet again…”
Our children’s names
David, June, Andrew

I see the date of death cast in bronze
Are you really now a person of the “other town”?
Are you really gone?

by Ok Ryong, wife

 Translated by June and Ok Ryong.
June Written by:


  1. Bonnie
    December 9, 2016

    June, that is beautiful! I’m so glad you are taking on this project.

  2. February 3, 2017

    Heart wrenching, but so perfect too. Thank you June.

  3. June
    February 4, 2017

    To have the first two pieces of writing from my mother was a wonderful way to start this project. She wrote so purely, simply, honestly. I thank her for originally put this book together and now to go through it a second time with me.

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