The epilogue–”A Hemp Robe and Juniper”–of the novel, The Voices of Heaven, is the culmination of the tension built around the daughter character, Mi-na. The story told in the epilogue was shaped into a piece of creative nonfiction, titled “The Return of a Native in a Hemp Robe.”
Below are pictures of my family.
Published in a Korean literary journal Wilderness, Winter, 2011
My Brother’s Computer
Maija Rhee Devine
-- Originally written in Korean, translated into English by author
My brother is 75 years old.
At fifteen, recruited by Korean Navy
To do a job like Radar’s in M*A*S*H
He rode in U.S. Patrol Craft 703
Ready to kill, in a wing of 260-battle-ship fleet
Commanded by General Douglas MacArthur.
One September night,1950, Korean Navy blooded
N. Korean communists on Youngheung Island
Planted Korean flag atop the hill
He sped away for his night shift in PC703
Only to learn at dawn
The fourteen war buddies he left behind
Were bullet-riddled to unidentifiable bodies
By enemy troops who sneaked
across the tide-drained strait.
I’ve sinned by staying alive
What can I do to cleanse this sin?
What can I do with my life
To make it worth fourteen lives?
Shriveled under that weight
He mourned each day for six decades
As shrunken is his computer
Out its phlegm-congested throat come mysterious groans
The battery has already given up its ghost
Why don’t I get you a new oney? I offer during my visit to Seoul.
Oh, no, no. My daughter-in-law’s getting
A new computer. Her old one will be my new one,
Until the “new” one arrives, he goes through these steps.
He turns the surge protector, which he turns off each night.
Presses the “on” button.
Then the “F 1”
The Windows screen blinks through its many phases
When it’s done, he presses “Begin,” “Program,” “Internet.”
If the “Internet” doesn’t surface
He enters the time, date, and year.
Then clicks “Apply” and “Confirm”
Ahhh! The internet’s up!
At his age, I’m lucky he knows what a computer is.
And here comes his E-mail message
Limping, coughing, and wheezing across the Pacific Ocean
Lands on my morning tea in Missouri