Healing in art
When I used to work in the hospital as a nurse, I have applied for the Nursing Literature Award hosted by the Korean Nurses Association.
Unexpectedly, after working, a poem written in the library was selected as the first winner. Here is the poem.
Paper boat in 1980 (by Myungja Anna Koh)
Pouring rainy day, like a sadly crying child in 1980.
Brother and I folded a piece of white paper so,
Made a paper boat.
Then we float a little ship away on the road that had become a river.
May my little carrier reaches my father, who suddenly left.
And pick up him and bring to come back home.
May he can read us a bedtime story again.
So we wanted desperately.
In a dark and small room,
In loneliness and worries without a single ray of light,
We waited for him, who had not returned.
Filled that dark empty with tears and sadness.
We wrote a letter with that heart and folded it.
One day, suddenly, someone sailed my father far away.
And he never came back.
So we made a small pity boat again
folded a paper boat like my father's heart.
Day after day, we ship it as a slender boat on the raging waves,
With a hope that someday he will get back on that boat.
May my family live together in a world like a sailboat for desire.
I'm still folding it, hoping that way again today.
The poem I wrote above is about recalling my childhood memories. At the time in Korea, it was common to arrest people with different political ideas or beliefs and put them in jail or torture. Then, like a poem, one day, suddenly detectives in plain clothes came to the house and took my father. My father wasn't only a spy, but also he was not a social activist against the government, and he was just an ordinary head of the household. However, making a person a victim and being promoted made it easy prey for detectives who wanted the desire for power.
We went to the police station searching for my father, who had gone somewhere in a vehicle without a license plate. But the police officer gave us some advice to treat it missing.
However, like a miracle, as we desperately wished, a few months later, my father returned home in a weary look. He was wearing bloodstained torn underwear and struggled to sit. The torn shirt is still evident in my memory. My father told me what kind of hardship he had been through.
It was that they would frame the innocent person and kill him in an electric torture chair, then put it in a bag of rice and throw it away in the Han River. Before my father entered the electrical torture room, he said he saw many bags piled up in the hallway. But did heaven save him? Before his turn, he said that he would write a will, and someone among them allowed him to do it. That's how he wrote his life story, and a detective said he had read it and released him. Since then, my dad had told me, " Write anything whatever you think". Anyway, my father hasn't seen the rice bag for a while. And he couldn't even get a call, knowing he had been wiretapping on for over a decade. Like all fathers in the world, the next day, he had to go to work after going through such distress.
The bloodstained underwear that my father wore at that time had already been thrown away and disappeared.
All the same time, the pain of my father that I saw and heard as a child becomes trauma, and It always wanders around me.
Art was like a friend who shared and listened to me. And it let me know why I need darkness in my paintings. My life seemed to sail toward the dimming around the sea at stake like a painting "La Barque de Dante." So the French painter Eugene Delacroix drew a picture called "La Barque de Dante, 1822" to depict Italian poet Dante on a ship headed to hell under the guidance of the ancient Roman poet "Vergilius".
I do love this picture because I have a good counselor like Vergilius who has been my friend in a complicated life. So that Vergilius is an art to me.
Myungja Anna Koh