TO COME CURIOUS

 

We take slow steps into the sweet water, watch the current
caress the dark rock, the volcanic roar no longer rupturing,
its rage now rocked to slumber by this single shore. I lose
my shirt to time’s tide and this shimmering sand, I lift it up
and feel the weight that washed over it as you turn to face
the vast ocean and wonder what the next wave will bring
upon us. We have crossed currents, trained through towns
and cut across mountains, we have laughed at sadness
and cried over cocktails, we have come so far to wade out
into these waters as locals watch us with questions of how
and why. We have come curious to this country, we creep
along its coast like this tide, rummaging over these rocks,
wondering what happened to the heat it once ran with
when man was more forgiving and the mountain more daunting.
We climb the dormant mount, once maker of molten menace,
to watch the sun swim up from the sea and we count minutes
till the darkness will be disregarded as if time is all that’s needed
to destroy depression, decay, dysphoria. This mountain, once
a monster the sea could not settle and land could not control,
this country, once more than a division of north and south,
of emperors and conquers, Confucians and Catholics, devout
and deserted. We were once more than single souls searching
for the way back. We are tides, coming and going along
these beds we find shelter in, arms wrapped around us
like seaweed we equally fight off and hold down, we are lava,
trailing tunnels through our own thoughts, destroying
what we think to be too much but never quite knowing
how to fill the hollowness that’s left behind. We take steps
down into the open earth, adding sweaters to our short sleeves
and I wonder why it grows colder the closer we get to the core.
Isn’t the inferno on fire anymore? Dante will be disappointed.
We look like ants crawling over cobbled rock as we curve
through these corridors created in centuries now cemented
into time and caress these walls and catch our breath
under cathedral ceilings created by no creature but by nature’s
creation. Deeper and deeper still and the silliness is replaced
by a silence in this place where the waters drip from porous rock
and we look smaller, less special, not so strong in this cave
carved by once molten rock, by lines of luscious lava
that laughed as its lungs opened and its power poured. Later,
back at the beach, the tide again tickles our feet as we stand
upon the rock that once before roared. We are equal parts
creator and equal parts responsible for all that we corrupt.
We have come curious to this country but find ourselves
asking more questions about who we are than of this coast
that will still be counted long after we have been smashed
upon our own current. We take slower steps through
the sweetness and my heart beats louder, longer, lighter.

  

All words and photographs of Jeju Island in South Korea by Damien B Donnelly

This is a repost of a week considering Creation and our position within it.

GRAINS OF SAND BENEATH CERULEAN SKIES

 

Faith
is fragile,
courage
is not always conclusive
until called,
we do not command the waves
nor comprehend the clouds.
I tell you this sand
will be swept into the sea by night fall,
this baying breath of cyan
neath the stretch of those cerulean skies.
This smooth, salt-licked land
was forged from fire
before you were born,
when vultures had feathers
instead of hands and knives,
when volcanos were all there was to fear.
Faith is fragile,
we cannot see what once was
or what will come to be.
We are not the fire nor the future,
we lie somewhere
below the caelum
searching for a shred of security
on a spot of shore
before the tides return
and we, in turn,
become a grain of sand
that some being will one day look upon
and try to see what is no longer there.
It is ours to be the basalt
or to be
something
better.

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All words and photographs (taken on Jeju Island, South Korea) by Damien B. Donnelly

27th Poem for National Poetry Writing Month

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SCENES FROM SOUTH KOREA, JEJU, PART 5,000

 

And finally we fly to Jeju Island, home to blue seas, lava tubes, volcanos, sunsets and tangerines…

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A fisherman at the beach

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Blue sea, white sand and volcanic rock

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Seongsan Volcano, World Heritage Site

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Seongsan Volcano, World Heritage Site

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Seongsan Volcano, World Heritage Site

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Seongsan Volcano, we climbed at 4.30am to watch the sunrise

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Cloudy sunrise!

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Drying shallots along the road

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Manjanggul Lava Tube caves, UNSECO World Heritage Site

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Manjanggul Lava Tube caves

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Manjanggul Lava Tube caves

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Along the Olle Trail, Jeju has 26 hiking trails

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In the frame, Hallasan Mountain in the background

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Carved from volcanic rock

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Fruit Market and Tangerines

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The Mother of mushrooms

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Tangerines and strange shaped lemon coloured melons

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Seowipo 

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Seowipo

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Me, braced with braces!

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Tribute to the women divers of Seowipo, some of whom are in their 80’s

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Breakfast with garden views, a childfree garden. Seriously! There was a sign!

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Ferry to Gaopdo, an island as flat as a pancake

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The little village on Gapodo island

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I want to go to this school!

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Ferry Terminus

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Lunch in a shell.

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Stone Guards of Jeju City

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Colorful transport

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Hotel corridor, Seowipo, Sumorum Hotel

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Balacony with a view, Sumorum Hotel

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Arario Museum of modern art, also one in Seoul

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Arario Museum

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Arario Museum

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Arario Museum

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Arario Museum 

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And the sunset begins on the holiday

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And goodnight South Korea

All photographs by Damien B. Donnelly