Hometown by Baek Seok (고향, 백석)

(translated from the Korean by geul)

I saw a doctor one morning
After lying alone sick in Bukkwan.
The doctor wears a face like Buddha’s and Guan Gong*’s beard
Like a hermit from some country of long ago
Putting out a hand with a long-nailed pinky finger
Feeling my pulse a long time in silence
Suddenly he asks where my hometown is
When I say Pyungando Jeongju
So it’s the hometown of Mr. So-and-so he says.
When I say then do you know Mr. So-and-so?
The doctor smiles a little
We’re bosom buddies he says and strokes his beard.
When I say he’s like a father to me
The doctor once again smiles to himself and
As he wordlessly takes my arm to feel my pulse
His touch is so warm and soft
My hometown, my father and my father’s friend were all there.

**deity name for Guan Yu

poem in original Korean

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