Snow would have been breaking the drifts that day, on a mild
My father was boarding at the home of a missionary couple in
Seoul, getting by on books and the radio and cheap noodles.
His older brother hanged himself that winter in Pusan. They
would say afterward that it was a plain death, funded by bad
numbers, some selfishness, unusual cold.
Think of a needle dropped into the sea.
He had a pleasantly objective feeling about himself that morning,
as the early sky gently ripped into red. He thought about Business
English, the truth of money.
Across town, a diary opened. And there were the white, cooling
coals in barrels.
There was a pretty young wife and one serious boy and one very
quiet girl. They awakened one day to a new planet, where the
spaces between people appeared slightly widened.
Maybe you can’t penetrate events with reportage, but facts have a
sly, unanswerable texture that appears social.
To relieve ourselves of open-ended narrative, we read into the
winter stars all evening. There are just stars and stars and stars.
We know what it’s like to fall in love and be disassembled, but we
still want to pull death right off the bodies of one another.
These were spectacular nights, said my father. They were full of
philosophy and political theory, noisy reversals, French movies.
The romantic grace we comprehend sits with ease in the real
world; it is almost nothing.
Now he is carrion, stitched forever in the cramp of a trial.
No one can evict us from books! he used to say, running through
astonishment at full speed.