Chris Rice Cooper
*The images in this specific piece are granted copyright privilege by: Public Domain, CCSAL, GNU Free Documentation Licenses, Fair Use Under The United States Copyright Law, or given copyright privilege by the copyright holder which is identified beneath the individual photo.
**Contact BoSeon Shim at firstname.lastname@example.org
Someone Always In The Corner Of My Eye
“The Pile of Communion”
During life I scatter my bits of my soul here and there,
on every side of night, in all the corners of day
lest anyone should rake them
into a pile again.
--Excerpt, “The Soul Between Two Trees”
On October 18, 2016 White Pine Press published Someone Always in the Corner of My Eye http://www.white
pine.org/catalog.php?id=292 by BoSeon Shim https://www.facebook.
com/boseon.shim.1 as part of its Korean Voices Series (Volume 22); translated by YoungShil Ji & Daniel T. Parker; https://www.facebook.com/daniel.t.parker.5; with cover art “Revert 14” by Hyung Sook Oh https://www.facebook.com/hyungsook.oh.50
There is story that each embryo has an angel teaching them all the wisdom of the world. Just before birth the angel lightly taps the infant's upper lip (which creates the philtrum) to erase all the secrets the infant knows in order to prevent the infant from disclosing those secrets. (illustration of baby attributed to Mark Anderson)
There is a debate of how this story originated - some say through Jewish Mythology and others say it originated from screenwriter Richard Brooks who was ordered by director John Houston to rewrite the play Key Largo for the big move screen version by the same name.
In the poem “Scratching My Philtrum” an angel visits the fetus with a message to forget everything it has learned.
You should begin your life as a very empty thing.
Finishing the remark with Shh, forget,
She gently touched my face
and a philtrum formed above my upper lip.
Boseon Shim described “Scratching My Philtrum” as the most compelling poem (from the collection) for him to write: “I felt like there’s everything in it. Time, Space, human suffering, relationships, despair, hope.” (far right Boseon Shim)
In “Necessary Things” the speaker of the poem explains the importance of the angel’s message.
It’s necessary that the past remain a riddle.
That way, only one moment’s necessary
for everything to be understood,
The speaker of the poem in Someone Always In the Corner of My Eye tries to rediscover the secrets through the process of communion, which is defined as the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level.
He regains the knowledge by asking questions in the poem “Questions.” (above painting attributed to ShinYun bok)
questions that are heavy and subtle as coffee at a funeral home:
In “To My Dear Words” he views words as messengers, which could be interpreted as the same angel sending a message of approval to the speaker of the poem and his lover. As a result he proclaims:
I’ve lived a life filled with joy.
(above painting attributed to Hyewon-Wloha Jeongin)
In the second stanza he is in a cemetery reading the names of the tombstones of deceased people he loves. In the last line of the second stanza he proclaims:
I’ve lived a life filled with sorrow.
In the next stanza he tries to find the right message or the right philosophy to include both joy and sadness. (painting Aroma of the Mind)
someday I’ll knead the shadow-fragments I’ve gathered in my life
and shape one huge word.
One word to fit perfectly
into the gap between joy and sorrow.
In “Foreigners” he is able to commune with his father through his father’s journal, where he reads: My father wrote, “During a trip, you will certainly cry at/ least once.” He then observes a blind foreigner who is lost, causing him to meditate on his father’s death.
I have been blind about my father
for a long time.
Because he died and is dead
I’ve been living and am alive.
Here no one knows
that I secretly pray for hope
that I am by nature an expert on redemption
that my name is
not Pei or Watanabe, or Thomas
that at present I’m
a nationless orphan
who has just been abandoned by the past.
In “The Humor of Exclusion” James Joyce communes with the him by becoming his muse making him feel needed and accepted.
He spoke to me, almost whispering
“The Humor of Exclusion-
It’s the title for your nest poem;
write whatever you want with it
You don’t need to say I gave it t’you
It’s my special gift t’you.”
Mr. Joyce threw a wink at me.
In “Open Friendship” the speaker of the poem communes with his own self through poetry:
You’re writing it with your own hand.
your transparent hand throbbing endlessly.
In “A Boy Answers His Own Question” the man is communing with the boy within who asks him a question. Before the man can answer the question the boy must go on a journey of becoming an adult, but even then that will not make him wise. (right, The Dancing Boy attributed to Danwon-Mudong)
Cross this forest
and on the other side I’ll give you an iron answer,
but the person who answers isn’t wise.
In the last stanza he tells the boy that his satisfaction will be found in the big questions and not the small answers.
Boy, you hurl a question
that is the crumb of a bigger question
Cross this forest
and on the other side I’ll give you a fireball answer,
but it won’t be the gift you expect.
It will only be one sentence
With a timid sigh
I whisper, Where is my guardian angel?
Perhaps when I was born an angel shouted “Hurrah!”
then choked on a cloud, and fell
In “A Heart Gives Birth to a Future” the speaker of the poem counts each hear beat as he communes with Prometheus via the pages of a book. (Prometheus Brings the Fire attributed to Heinrich Friedrich Fuger)
Perhaps Prometheus’ descendant.
The dream that forged the corners of the book
still sears my fingers.
In the fourth stanza communion takes place between branches and flowers of nature. (right, attributed to Nam Gye-U)
Spring days, when a branch forms a green cross with another
a flower whispers secret flower language to another flower,
He then sees a woman whom he describes as an emissary carrying the book of Prometheus in her hands.
she comes toward me, a flaming book in her hand.
When she reaches me, I’ll embrace her!
the angel draws near the one in sorrow
because in love there must
be an angel to whisper Don’t forget.
He also will do as the angel did – forgetting just enough to learn more secrets as excerpted from the poem “Time of Transformation”
Each night a burnt offering
As I placed flowers, incense and candles upon time’s grave,
Burning the memories of a hundred days.
The one thing that Shim can never forget is the cosmic reason why he writes: “It’s more about transforming the memories to a sort of universe that would register to the senses of both me (the writer) and others (the readers).”
Based on the previous quote, it seems fitting to end this piece by the quoting the lines from the poem “Love Is My Weakness.”
A poem where a world of sorrow my language can never reachspreads vividly, like a constellation across the night sky.