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A Song for the Road

I will return to heaven.
Hand in hand with the dew
that vanishes at the touch of the light at first dawn,

I will return to heaven.
together with the twilight and nothing more
when the clouds beckon whilst I play on the foothills,

I will return to heaven.
On the day my sojourn on this beautiful world ends,
I will go and tell them it was beautiful…1

The wanderer shambled on.

He didn’t mind the sun beating down mercilessly on his ruddy, wrinkled skin, nor did he mind the rough, slender leaves of the dog tails brushing up against his ankles.

He took a slow swig from his gourd flask, cleared his throat, and started humming. He did not know where he heard that song, but each note came to him as naturally as bees were drawn to wildflowers. Besides, he knew he loved it.


He shook his head, and muttered some unintelligible things under his breath.

For a traveler like him, he reasoned, the sun and the dog tails were the most reliable companions he could get. Even the incessant chirping of the cicadas would come to an end when the summer gave way to autumn, and he would be left bereft of his lullabies for his midday naps, save for the wind, whose cold chilly breath promised him of the avernal season to come.

Not that he minded that either.

After all, what is the cold but another excuse to curl up next to a campfire and toss some sweet potatoes on the embers? It was just him, and nature. For a man of his profession, things could not be better.

His profession.

The smile vanished from the face of the happiest man on the world. For a split second, memories came flooding back to him. Yes. Memories. Thoughts that he fought long and hard to bury up deep inside him, because they simply made no sense. He was a creature of logic, and remembering would have been madness. Better to consign these events to oblivion by pickling his brain in alcohol, than to have them blow up his head. That was the logical thing to do.

“Hmm…~ Hmm…~ Snap out of it…”

He quickly shook his head, and took another swig from his flask.

The hard dirt road narrowed to an uncomfortable width as the rice paddies on either side slowly began to encroach more and more onto the space reserved for the path. And yet, the wanderer hobbled forth, somehow walking in a straight line. A farmer pinched his nose at the reek of moonshine wafting from the wanderer’s mouth, and muttered a few choice insults at him as he passed by.

He didn’t mind that either.

He was told that he should not feel unjust because others do not understand him. After all he probably does not understand others as well…2


Was he taught that, or was he the one to teach it?

He was definitely the one to teach it. After all, was his name not Confucius? Yes, he remembers sitting on the gazebo, gazing out onto these very same rice fields, falling asleep to the chorus of the cicadas and the distant rumbling of the tractors…

Tractors? In my time?

Wasn’t Confucius Chinese? He was Korean, or at least, he thought he was…

The wanderer stopped and shook his head vigorously. He adjusted his straw hat, and took another swig from his flask, bigger this time.

What was he thinking about again?

He didn’t remember.

The smile returned to his face.

Again, the wanderer hobbled forth, humming louder this time to drown out any stray thoughts. But no matter how long he hummed, he couldn’t purge a thought that nibbled away at him from the back of his mind.


Yes. He remembered that he was no wanderer, but a poet. Not just any poet, and not just a poet, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on it. And why should he try to remember? Remembering was madness.

And so, the poet shambled on towards the setting sun, towards the hill with the craning pine tree he so loved to nap under.

And all the way, he hummed the song that he so loved, but forgot the words to a few lifetimes ago.