Green Apples and Winter Strawberries

Jeongyre Choi

South Korea

Because the bus stopped there
a green apple on a street stall came to me
summer now gone
its face was shining next to a watermelon out of season,
since I was looking, the green apple was greener
Its naval smoothly carved, facing towards me
The bus started
and the green apple slipped out of sight, out of the square frame.
the bus was wheeling away
all along I kept the green apple in my eyes, still
The green apple will be standing on the station stall,
not knowing its still on my mind
Because it was tired of waiting for the one ,it would go
dangling in a black plastic bag held by someone else
A strange and short spark
I was unable to eat for a month, this summer
now leaving, not knowing when to return
I wanted to jump into the green naval and never come out again
could not get off and go to the green apple
where the strange bus was going and
why I was wandering like this
I could not tell the green apple

Vacations aren’t for photos,
and strawberries aren’t for plates.
So what then?
Strawberries in winter.
Winter strawberries. What is this?

It’s cold now, but there are strawberries at the market.
“Two baskets, 7,000won!” he shouts.
Berries used to come from the Suwon patches
where young lovers went each May to gaze at each other
and touch for the first time.

But this isn’t what I wanted to say.
These stories about sweet-nothings, about winter strawberries,
so many empty words.

Hearing that a visitor was coming,
I washed the curtains and windows, swept and buffed the floor,
and bought winter strawberries at the market.
I bought them because he kept shouting, “7,000won!”
The short-lived December sun sank
and the visitor came.
We were noisy with high laughter
and the winter night passed
as strawberries were plucked from the plate.
I put the leftover berries in the refrigerator
where they shrivelled.

But this is not really what I wanted to say,
this talk of eating strawberries,
loveless and vacant;
these threats and withered phrases
served with the reality that winter strawberries must rot.

That’s still not it.
The strawberries sit in my fridge still wrapped in their plastic.
Winter strawberries have come and winter too.
It’s so cold. I’m so cold.

I put them in my grocery bag
and in my refrigerator.
But what’s this? What?
It’s winter, and the strawberries are red, beautiful, adorable.
They are charming,
irresistible.

No, in the end, it’s not
this either.

 

Translated by Daye Jeon and Wayne De Fremery




Jeongyre Choi is a Guest Contributor to Panorama.