To a crow

 

Covered with soft snow so clean and white,

The Earth was lying silent under a cold sheet

To give every step of mine a meaning so recondite,

Heaving sometimes a deep sigh under my heavy feet.

 

It made me feel even guilty like some kind of trespasser

Disturbing the ones sleeping soundly as they had wished,

But curious and tempted as well, like a shy transgressor

Over across to the land of sweet whispers gently hushed,

 

Where, strange enough, the more breathlessly

I heard myself panting, the more alive I did feel,

And, my heart beating harder, I could see fearlessly

Every breath of my life expiring in the cold still,

 

Maybe why, every time I feel myself vividly dying,

I can not help but find myself avidly dying

To enter the space that I have already well known,

Being a new comer each time exploring the unknown,

 

And there one day I saw you, a living black kite,

Hovering above trees that blocked the sky from my sight,

For I could catch you cawing with all your might,

Like a sinister signal coming shrill from a distant height,

 

But not at all you could scare, Crow!

A heart already stricken with a deep sorrow

Who wanders off sometimes like a living scarecrow,

Or a subterranean soul briefly out of its burrow.

 

Who would have believed you to be joyfully chanting?

But someone whose soul is so crass and stark

With the wings of a free-flying bat out for hunting

That re-claims its own realm only in the dark.

 

ÒDonÕt ever pity a mortal unable to live his life happy.

Rather sing courage into his heart to die his death happy,

With his soul embarking on a journey, not sorry but merry,

Leaving behind all his sorrow, such a heavy bale to carry.Ó

 

Then, you swooped down, probably for a short rest,

As if to kindly reply to my unuttered request,

And, hidden from my view, your presence near was certain,

Like a voice coming from behind a blind curtain,

 

ÒRemember this winter when your heart was so dying

To see another spring, the season they were dying.

Happy or unhappy, your life you were still living,

Dying for a moment of spring that is so life-giving!Ó

 

You disappeared out of my world, a black death sweeping,

To haunt me with your voice throughout my living days

That memories of death too should be worth keeping

For myself to live through all these dying days.

 

Like a dead tree still standing on a fresh-fallen shroud,

Or a souvenir of life found in a dead hand,

I was standing a while, silently, as in a mourning crowd,

No questions asked, nor any answers from Fate to demand.

 

I remember, like yesterday, or today, and strange enough,

Just like tomorrow, the moment I heard you calling clear enough,

And I believe that I know now what you were then chanting,

Neither life nor death, but both, why I found you so enchanting.

 

I, with my bitter heart, believe, and have to believe

That He surely sent me you with your wings simply ebony,

So I can live on, and, whatever it is, as myself live,

Recalling you as a sweet angel with wings purely ivory.

 

 

 

To a spider

 

What is it for? such an elaborate trap,

Using, I hope not wasting, your own lifeÕs sap;

No living thing is known to have life-force on tap,

And between life and death is nothing to span the gap.

 

I donÕt know why, maybe my immaturity,

I thought that you were so ugly,

Now that, maybe a mortalÕs empathy,

I find you somehow so lovely,

 

Not that I am unaware you are a captor so gruesome,

Especially for small creatures that love to fly.

But donÕt be one for an earth-bound soul so lonesome,

Which is what I have within yearning to fly high.

 

I stare at your artful craft, quite amazed,

As if trying to read a strangerÕs palm,

Or like the stars that one night I gazed

At, looking for some kind of unearthly balm.

 

I adore and admire you, envious of the precision

You employ to map out your intricate intention;

I need that too every time I have to make a decision

To spell out a net-work of words in delicate tension.

 

So, I raise to your capturing no objection,

Butterflies being the only exception;

They somehow seem to be too poor a prey,

Though our soul, in despair, remembers to pray.

 

No crown. You are reigning in what you wrought.

Shame on my two-bit intelligence to decipher,

As they probably would do with what I wrote

As a self-entitled and small-time philosopher!

 

I call you by your name without any pious dread,

A tight-rope dancer, sometimes hanging by a thread,

And you are but a crawling creature called spider,

Not presiding over life and death as the Divine Divider.

 

But I have somewhere to go, though not now,

Leaving you alone to your own kingdom,

For, here on Earth, I canÕt and donÕt know how

To find, from all worldly cobwebs, a quiet freedom.

 

So, should you catch me, by any chance, just fleeting by,

Stick to your own knitting without any grieving,

For it was my psyche that stopped me, while passing by,

To peacefully watch you minding your weaving so captivating,

 

Or, one morning, upon your strings, something so pure

From a heart you touched that would pearl and shine,

You may find as a result of what it had to endure.

IÕd love you to drink it to know it is mine.

 

 

 

To a firefly

 

ThereÕs a soul burning itself

That can shine only in the dark,

Holding a silence within itself

Nobody would care to hark,

 

And it was under a full moon

Sailing along above a darkened world,

Yet, to be waning pretty soon

Like a boat sinking into the underworld

 

That you caught my dim sight

Like a beacon signaling from afar

For a traveler lonely in the night

In search of a guiding star.

 

Off the trail, I did approach you,

But not to catch you,

Only for my heart to touch you

To catch fire from you

 

Scintillating with each heart-beat

Like a fragment of a fallen star,

Whose light weakening bit by bit

Never did I intend to mar.

 

You will become extinct

Someday not too far,

Yet, thereÕs a mark distinct

You left upon my heart

 

That shall remain a life-time

Like some secret scar,

Till someday comes my time

From this world to part.


 

 

 

The Wake

 

Wild wings again I give you for flight

From the dark of my heart facing twilight.

Cruel things I can neither heal or kill

But only in tears swallow or spill.

 

Knowing you would come back to your nest

Like a Banshee haunting from the past,

And straining to do my best to find some rest

From the crooning that I fear would forever last,

 

I wish you were only too volatile

To stay in this world I was born to wander,

Proving my sorrows all too futile

To find their dwelling place anywhere yonder,

 

Leaving behind, with the time due,

Only your refined residue

That would gently on Earth subdue

As pure as tomorrowÕs morning dew.

 

The dusk falling awakens the vigilant lamp

To shed a solitary soul-searching light

Upon my eyes still remaining damp

Unready for sleep through the long night.

 

 

 

A Bird of Passage

 

It sounded like a dull and dumb knock

Too weak to break the window like a hard rock,

Yet sudden enough to startle this heart of mine

Quick to take alarm at the slightest ominous sign,

 

And I found you lying down there almost belly up,

A punch-drunk boxer powerless to stand up,

Showing no resistance but only the white feather

Like a rag of sail-cloth beaten by harsh weather.

 

I picked you up and held you whole with great care

In my hands cupped filled with a gentle stare,

So you can feel safe and snug as in a womb,

(An eggshell, to be exact) not buried in a tomb.

 

Caressing you with the thicket of my beard,

A comforting gesture you might find weird,

bill-and-cooed to my best as a mimic,

As if quickening a heart failing so weak,

 

And it was a convalescence remembered the shortest

My loneliness cruelly wished to be the longest,

Till in my nest hand-knit secure and steady

You began to show your spirit re-hatched and ready

 

For the flight you were given wings to navigate,

Like the journey I still have the will to elongate,

To someday land on the haven of the land far yonder,

Guided not by mine but His invisible hand of wonder.

 

I donÕt know why you lingered around for a short while,

Perched on a twig, preparing yourself for a long mile,

Maybe, to leave me a parting message,

As we are all on Earth a bird of passage,

 

Or a nameless Icarus to hit the bottom of reality

Where death is one of many a mundanity,

While I think I know, my fair feathered friend,

Why it shouldnÕt be the clinching end,

 

For not as a thrall freed from a deadly capture

You chanted up a trilling song of rapture,

Whose thrill so enthralling was not just fleeting by

But for my soul to always remember you by.

 

© Kihyeon Lee

 

Brief Bio:  Kihyeon Lee was born and raised, and educated in the North Jeolla Province of South Korea. He studied German Literature at a university, and his English is mostly self-taught. He enjoys sauntering in the mountains and listening to classical music and opera.