Pak Chaesam
The Road Back

Starting on the frosty path at dawn,
mother now soaked from the heavy night’s dew;
mother has come back after a day of selling
to the place where we lie asleep.

There is no jar of honey on the shelf,
only the gray dust piling,
while the children, too small to work
off the debts, lie stretching here, there.

No one to see, no one
to comprehend when she unties
the starlight she carries back on her forehead,
and shakes loose the moonlight
that clings to her sleeves.

Translated from the Korean by David R. McCann and Jiwon Shin.