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The Sky

March 20, 2012

I don’t know why, but these days I often think of my first year as a foreign student in Boston, long ago–starting in the fall of 1962.

I lived in a graduate school dormitory on Bay State Road. After breakfast, I gathered my books and a brown lunch bag containing two hardboiled eggs and some carrot sticks (a light lunch kept me from nodding off in the afternoon) and left for class. As I walked along the Charles River, my straight black hair cascading down my back could have blown away with fallen leaves, had it not been anchored to my head. Hearing the sound of my own footsteps, I tried to transmute my feelings of loneliness into stoic resignation in order to tackle another day of struggling with abstract concepts in a foreign tongue.

With the river at my side, September turned into October and leaves donned the brilliant hues for which New England is deservedly famous. In that very first autumn away from home, my heart raced to the sky across the Pacific, my soul crying for home. For me, autumn was always the season of glorious beauty, softly embraced by sadness that defied description. It was the season of big sky that drew my eyes and mind faraway, to an unknown land of destiny and love, a season that brought feelings of  homesickness, even when I had been at home. I delighted in it and cried in it.

When I met Don in Washington, D.C., many years later, one of the first things he talked about was Iowa sky. Whenever he brought up that sky, his eyes traveled far away, as though reaching for that sky. I did not feel left out of his private journey there. I loved him for his love of sky, the sky he often described as “filling everything, especially at night.” I knew then that it was homesickness for Don that had filled my chest as I gazed at the sky in Korea.

Last October, I lived a solitary life in Tuscany. There, I rediscovered my Korean sky and Don’s Iowa sky. In awe of the Tuscan skies, I whispered to Don, “Here, we have our joint sky, your Iowa sky and my Korean sky.”

Upon returning to New York, I started painting what I remembered as Tuscan skies. While my feet are grounded on earth, my soul is immersed in the sky.

I try to walk to the garden in our apartment complex every evening. We held Don’s memorial there in April 2009. I sit on a bench and look at the sky. One evening, I heard myself saying, “Don, you brought the Tuscan sky here for me!”

On that bench, as I imagined Don’s soul soaring in the sky, the following came to me.

Look at the sky.
Look up the sky.
Let the sky wrap you around,
your body, mind and soul.

The sky will sprout
a thousand wings,
and fill your eyes with vision
sublime and remarkable,
your ears with rhythms
of God’s earth and
stay with your troubled
and lonely heart until
it becomes an oasis of light.


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One Comment
  1. Sabine permalink

    I love that! Magnificent poem. Can not wait to see your paintings…

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