Search Engine: Notes from the North Korean-Chinese-Russian Border

Grandfather I cannot find, 
flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone,
what country do you belong to: 

where is your body buried,
where did your soul go 
when the road led nowhere? 

Grandfather I’ll never know, 
the moment father last saw you 
opens a wormhole 

that has no end: the hours 
became years, the years 
forever: and on the other side 

lies a memory of a memory 
or a dream of a dream of a dream
of another life, where what happened 

never happened, what cannot come true
comes true: and neither erases 
the other, or the other others, 

world after world, to infinity – 
If only I could cross the border 
and find you there, 

find you anywhere, 
as if you could tell me who he is, or was, 
or might have become: 

no bloodshot eyes, or broken 
bottles, or praying with cracked lips 
because the past is past and was is not is – 

Grandfather, stranger, 
give me back my father – 
or not back, not back, give me the father 

I might have had:
there, in the country that no longer exists, 
on the other side of the war –

“Search Engine: Notes from the North Korean-Chinese-Russian Border” from Notes from the North by Suji Kwock Kim. Copyright © 2022 by Suji Kwock Kim. Used by permission of the poet. All rights reserved.