My Grandfather Visits Pyongyang
— Theophilus Kwek
Too late, we find among his photographs
A kingdom mostly dreamed of,
Its absurd architecture where
He alighted some time in October.
Frame after frame resists comparison.
There isn’t a place we’ve seen
That stands as still, or with the same intent
Raises its glass towards heaven,
All normalcy locked within a sound
These pictures don’t contain—a pitch rung
In the earth’s confines, too low
For human hearing. Friends tell us to allow
Ourselves the time it takes
To grieve, or whatever brings us back
To last year’s long continuum,
But something stays the eye. How in some
Perspectives he’s already gone,
Gone from the boulevards where wide-crowned
Trees fill up the viewfinder,
And men and women in work clothes hover
Outside our field of vision. He’s
Somewhere else entirely, now close,
Now looking in, the disappearance
Nothing more than a trick of the lens,
Though we fall for it again and again.
How like him, we think,
Then catch ourselves. The pages turn
On their own impulse in our hands.
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