A Drop of Blood
(Translated from Korean by Clare You and Zack Rogow).
I dipped a pen in ink,
wrote a poem on a sheet of paper.
I believed I’d written it with bloody care
and that I’d worked up a sweat.
But I hadn’t.
When Mother, a seamstress, was struggling to support me,
I hated to study as a boy.
I remember her finger getting pricked by a needle, dripping blood.
Mom, doesn’t it hurt?
It doesn’t hurt me as much as when you don’t study.
The bloodstain on the white collar of her cotton jacket.
Today as I
watched my wife sewing a button on my shirt
the ink I dipped my pen in was a
drop of her blood,
the paper I wrote on
her white cotton jacket.
Oh Sae-young is a leading Korean poet also noted for his works of criticism. He has published twenty-four volumes of poetry, and numerous works about literature, including studies of romantic and contemporary poetry in Korea. Oh Sae-young has won numerous literary awards and is currently a professor emeritus at the prestigious Seoul National University, where he taught Korean poetry for many years.