Dai Sil Kim-Gibson
Dai Sil Kim-Gibson comes from a world whose art is one of dignity, respect, and humility. She brings to that deep feelings and the open consciousness of a woman who has lived in eastern and western cultures. Some of her poetry was born when her beloved husband died - much of her writing harks back to the land of her birth before North and South Korea were torn apart. Whatever the topic, Dai Sil writes with a patient grace, and we read her knowing the words are good and true. - Grace Cavalieri
Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, formerly professor of Religion at Mount Holyoke College with a Ph.D in Religion from Boston University, is a renowned independent filmmaker/writer, known for championing the compelling but neglected issues of human rights. All of her films garnered many awards, including the Kodak Filmmaker Award, and were screened at numerous festivals worldwide, in addition to national broadcast on PBS and on the Sundance Channel in the United States. She has received grants from the Rockefeller and MacArthur Foundations. An author of many articles, Silence Broken: Korean Comfort Women is her first book (The Philadelphia Inquirer, "unforgettable") and her second book is Looking for Don: A Meditation. She has completed editing and compiling a memoir by her late husband, Donald D. Gibson, Iowa Sky, a Memoir, scheduled to be published in January 2013.
There was a time in my youth
When I wanted to wear a silk dress
Looking soft and elegant
Dreaming of my soul mate.
Now my hair is gray
Deep sorrow flows from
Eyes watery with longing
I would rather wear a cotton dress
Looking for a patch of blue in the sky
Dark with clouds.
I want to walk on the scarred earth
And look for starving children
My chest heaving with hope
To give them a moment of full stomach
My head bowed deep.
I will join in your travel,
I hear my soul mate telling me
“I will live intensely,
In my coarse cotton dress,”
I say in whisper.
A Boy in the Attic
(for Don Gibson)
If my cheeks appear forever tearstained
You should look into my heart
Where red blood is mixed with my tears.
"For what?" You ask,
The loss of you.
"But I am not lost. You didn’t lose me," he answers.
"If darkness makes us invisible
to each other, Look for a glimmer
of light to find a little boy in an attic
Of a cold Iowa farm house
With the orange of the fire in the stove.
If silence surrounds you,
Look for the feet of a farm boy,
drenched by the dew,
Feel the hands of a young boy,
caked with earth, that black Iowa earth
Where he sprouted out of
his mother’s womb to look for you.
The boy who left
Cows to graze, pigs to be slaughtered
For the bellies of farmers
In search of the new world.
Harbor no sorrow for that boy
The boy found a home with you.
No, I am not lost.You didn’t lose me.
I am with you from dawn to dusk
And into the dark night."
A long line of mourners
In coarse cotton clothes
Wail - - Aigo, Aigo, Aigo
At a Korean funeral procession.
The unending sound of Aigo
Stretches high up to the sky
And covers the blue sky with
Dark clouds, turning into
Rain falls like tears running
Down the cheeks.
Aigo, Aigo, Aigo.
Somewhere in a village,
A grandma blinks her eyes
At the sight of a young man,
Incredulous and joyful,
“Aigo, am I dreaming?
Is this really you? My grand-son!
Now I can close my eyes.
Aigo, Aigo, you came back.”
With the same sound of Aigo,
You can cry or laugh,
Or both at the same time.
Have you ever walked on
the streets of a war-torn city?
I did, a fifteen year old girl,
In my city of Seoul.
Streets covered with thick fog,
So many shadows of deaths--
Sons and daughters, brothers and sisters
Friends, young and old, male and female
Silence reigns, more piercing than
Neither the raindrops
Nor a thundering downpour
Can cleanse the dark blood
But the same humans
Continue to run wild. Blood thirsty,
Murdering each other in the name
How long has it been
since I burst into irreverent laughter?
Since I let my soul fly out of the window
to luxuriate generous air?
Since I enlivened the dreary monotony
of daily life into joy?
Since I let light replace darkness
to reach the climax of audacity
of ascending high into the sky
to have a glimpse of the sun
News from the Land of My Birth
From the land of my birth
Long ago parted,
I hear that Spring still comes
To the trees in the winter
Their branches shivering and bear
And clothe them leafy and brilliant
The sun darkened faces of the children
Under the hot sun of the summer
Send laughter, cheerful and joyful
Waiting for the bliss of autumn
For the rice plants
To ripen golden, for their eager bellies
Winter is never a season of discontent
Dark and forgotten.
It foretells another spring
To make the striped branches leafy
And summer with deep green leaves
With birds singing in their nests
For the arrival of another autumn
When the songs of the nature
Will bring more children with laughter.
© Dai Sil Kim-Gibson, all rights reserved