“Worries for Mom” by Ki Hyeong-Do

Ki Hyeong-Do

Ki Hyeong-Do

Gone to market
carrying thirty bunches of young radishes on her head,
mom still hasn’t returned and the light’s long faded.
I’m forgotten, like cold rice in this room.
No matter how slowly I do my homework,
mom still doesn’t return. I don’t hear her trudging footsteps like
the crunch of cabbage. It’s dark and I’m scared.
Alone in my empty room, I roll over and cry
to the quiet sound of rain through the crack by the window.

Nights far in the past,
but my eyes still fill with tears
at that period, that heated floor from my childhood.


열무 삼십 단을 이고
시장에 간 우리 엄마
안 오시네, 해는 시든 지 오래
나는 찬밥처럼 방에 담겨
아무리 천천히 숙제를 해도
엄마 안 오시네, 배추잎 같은 발소리 타박타박
안 들리네. 어둡고 무서워
금간 창틈으로 고요히 빗소리
빈방에 혼자 엎드려 훌쩍거리던

아주 먼 옛날
지금도 내 눈시울을 뜨겁게 하는
그 시절, 내 유년의 윗목


Ki Hyeong-Do (1960–1989) was born on Yeonpyeongdo in Gyeonggi province. He graduated with a degree in international affairs from Yonsei University. In 1985 he entered a spring literary contest by Joongang Ilbo. Shortly after having started his literary career, he died of a stroke in a Seoul theatre in the district of Jongno.

Worries for Mom (엄마의 걱정) appears as part of Ki Hyeong-Do’s first collection of poetry, Black Leaf in My Mouth (입 속에 검은 잎), which was released posthumously by Changbi Publishers in 1989.