Mother’s Birthday Dinner Table

Ihlwha Choi translates his own poem set in Santiniketan from Korean to English

By the small window of the distant city Santiniketan, I met the morning of my birthday.

I have arrived here by train and airplane, where language and customs are different.

Does my mother know this city? She stays in a land further than the sun and the moon.

Long, long time ago, I was a tiny seed in my mother’s womb.

She left for a land farther than the legend of the sutras,

Leaving the frail bud in this world like one who pushes away her own baby with hate.

The day when the tiny black seed sprouted for the first time in the garden is my birthday.

Mother usually remembers the small bud and the sunshine of that spring.

Today should have been my mother's joy, but she is in a land further than the sun and moon.

When I approached the window of the unfamiliar city in the twilight with my body and mind worn out,

Mother visited me as an afterglow of the evening sun.

After looking around my room and my face, she brought me my birthday dinner.

When I finished having dinner, she had already left me,

Putting aside the silent blanket of night next to me.

She left me with the afterglow of the evening to the land further than the sun and moon.

Ihlwha Choi is a South Korean poet. He has published multiple poetry collections, such as Until the Time When Our Love will Flourish, The Color of Time, His Song and The Last Rehearsal.


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