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Poem | Leaving Home |  Dai Sil Kim-Gibson

Poem | Leaving Home | Dai Sil Kim-Gibson

One cannot know Dai Sil Kim-Gibson’s story without realizing why she became an artist. She withstood the horrors of the Korean Conflict as a child, and traveled through a path of scholarship into her new country of America. Studying Theology must have made her realize the search for truth never ends. She has stories to tell, tales never heard before. This turned her to filmmaking about startling and profound subjects. Also a Memoirist, she’s the biographer of her beloved late husband Don Gibson.
— Grace Cavalieri

Leaving Home

 

One winter daybreak, in 1945

My grandmother woke me up,

And presented a bowl of steaming

chicken soup. My eyes half closed,

my body longing to crawl back

into my warm quilt, I said, “What is this?

I do not want to eat anything.

I just want to go back to sleep!”

 

Her eyes, quiet but firm, sent me

to the bowl of soup. I dressed in a hurry

and sat up with a spoon in my hand.

 

Then she pulled me away

From the house where I was born and

grew up in North Korea.

 

Hastening me to walk

With a little knapsack on my back

In the company of my brothers and sister

 

As my house vanished

The sun blazing over the hills and streets

I was stunned and frightened

I asked my grandmother

“Where are we going?”

“To the south.”

“What’s in the south?”

“Democracy”

“Whatever democracy is,

I don’t want it. I want to stay here.”

I was seven then.

 

I walked on

Crossing what the grown-ups called

38th parallel. I had no idea what

Was going on. I only knew that

No more questions were invited.

 

Sadness in my heart,

I did not float in joy

I saw only the dazzling darkness.

 

After all these years

In the land across the ocean

That winter morning never forgotten,

I wonder if I ever found “democracy,”

In the South Korea where I grew up

To be a woman, or in America

Where I crossed the ocean to study.

 

If South did not give me democracy,

Still, it moistens my eyes with

Longing and fills my heart with

prayers for a soulful society where

human compassion and hope abound.

 

I hear the grainy voice of

My loved one, Don, who joins in

Those prayers.


Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, who has a Ph.D in religion and formerly taught at Mount Holyoke College, is an award-winning independent filmmaker and writer known for championing   neglected issues of human rights. Born in Northern Korea, she recently completed her eighth and most personal film, People Are the Sky. Produced in North Korea in 2013 and 2014,  This film about North Korea connects two ideas: the search for home, and the nature of ordinary people, while exploring the evolution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in relation to the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the USA.

 

 

 

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