In the village it’s the season of dried grass,
the smell of burned dirt,
gaslight glinting through blackened stubble.
I walk home across the rice-fields,
brushing insects away from my face,
remembering old Namdong who was buried yesterday.
What does death ask of us?
I must change whatever it was I was
when the old man was alive.
I keep looking at the rice-fields, glinting in the dark.
Blasted by mildew, more withered than last year —
how much work and love it must have taken.
In autumn, no matter how bad the harvest,
how big the debts —
no thought of leaving here, no thought of rest.
As life goes on, time isn’t the largest thing to think of,
it’s the smallest.
in drought or monsoon, mold or blight —
what is the rice if not alive?