South Han River

a ferryboat floats in the center
of the frozen South Han River

before the season’s first frost had iced
it had wanted to go someplace far
and had decided on its own upon the faraway ocean
but instead it simply froze to a stop

that the South Han River reeds
had overnight called forth the winter
to grasp hold of their beloved ferryboat
so it could go nowhere else
was only unknown to the ferryboat itself

By Chung Ho-seung
translated, from the Korean, by Mia You

Mia You is a Ph.D student in English literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Chung Ho-seung (1950-) is recognized as one of South Korea’s most popular contemporary authors. He has won almost all of Korea’s most prestigious poetry awards, including the Sowol Literary Prize and the Dong Suh Literary Prize.