[ToC]

 

DMZ

Daniel Myers

 

 

The Trans-Siberian railroad ends right before
North Korea. It's like ending a movie before

the credits roll. Everyone is secretly happy
except the million or so family members

separated by the DMZ, which does not stand
for the Daniel Myers Zone. At the DMZ,

I paid a dollar to spot North Korea
through a telescope that swiveled like a microscope.

"If you turn the telescope 60 degrees to the right,
you can make out the statute of Kim Il-Sung."

"Mom, is the black bacteria crawling
on this cell alive in me too?"

The funny thing is North Korean alcohol tastes
like South Korean alcohol + five dollars.

I sent my family a bottle. Via skype, my sisters tell me
to come back here, but I don't know when here begins

or ends. What's the difference between being 200 or 2,000
miles away? I don't know. I'm not a wise traveler.

In ten minutes I'll wonder why I'm sleeping underneath
an electric blanket set to high beneath a ceiling fan

that spins counterclockwise. Or why I want time
to spin in the same motion. I wanted to hitchhike

the Trans-Siberian railroad, but learned enough
about the world from McDonalds' foreign relations.

North Korean leaders now smuggle Big Macs from China.
Maybe the unfinished underground tunnel

from Pyongyang to Seoul would have ended
in front of a McDonald's had that South Korean farmer

not heard pickaxes crushing the world beneath him.
Peace rests between the buns.

Comedy smogs tragedy.
I can't tell if I am laughing or crying.

Misplaced magnets compose the world but they don't
know how to reunite. Somewhere, the sky bends

to slap humanity in the face, dislocates its arm,
and wears a blue cast only its mother can remove at night.         

 

 

 

 

__

Two years ago, I taught English to elementary school students in South Korea. I lived in Gwangju, which is about a four hour bus ride to Seoul. I had always wanted to visit the DMZ and had never found a free weekend. On one of my last weekends in Korea, my friends and I finally booked a tour. I know I shouldn't have been surprised, but the tour was so commercialized. Like there are these huge twenty foot letters D M Z meant for smiling tourists take pictures in front of.  You could buy North Korean alcohol. There were telescopes you could pay a dollar to peer through to see into North Korea. We did all of it. We had fun. None of it seemed real, the emotions suppressed like the hundreds of unseen mines hiding in the fields that continue to separate the north from the south.