Say these two lovers are eighty-two.
They may have many qualities of youth
they may be elastic, enthusiastic
they may be childlike, childish, curious, wildish
trusty, busty, lusty, gusty
brainy, zany, frantic, romantic
yearning, burning, learning, earning
they may be healthy and flexible and fit
they may be monarchs of the internet
they may be smart, they may be fun
they may leave you for dead when they go for a run
bouncy, flouncy, insecure
they may have charisma, they may have allure
they may be beautiful beyond all norms
gorgeous and cuddly and bubbly with dreams
they may be cute
but here’s the truth
one thing they do not have
it’s gone, it’s done, it’s been replaced
and that is youth.
Billboard in Seoul that is intended (I presume) to combat ageism… with a comforting lie. Shown to me by New Zealand Maggie Rainey-Smith as we walked through a few of her favourite places in Seoul. Thanks Maggie! Photo and poem by me, Rachel McAlpine: copy freely but include my name.
In this quick-fire poem I hear myself imitating Renee Taylor who wrote a furious and funny item about what old people are like in her blog The Wednesday Busk. Her rant was broader: I’ve focused on the characteristics of young people, because that’s what often lies behind cliches like “forever young”, “young at heart”, and so forth.
Aesthetic treats of the day.
Certain frames trap my eyes.
I feel an urge to stare and stay.
Best succumb. Just looking,
not shopping, not craving, not judging
into fleeting meditation.
These zen appreciation
moments happen often
in a foreign place.
Best if passive and silent
but sometimes a whoop
Travel notes and photos by Rachel McAlpine at Seoul Art Space Yeonhui— feel free to share.
Sunday was rainy so I went for a stroll wearing a classy yellow $2 plastic cape
aiming for a human-scale hill and lo, I found it.
Map of the Gungdongsan Trail was disarmingly simple so off I set to do the smaller loop.
Pretty, easy, rough and green, this little hill made me feel at home.
It could have been Mount Victoria, Wellington.
Surprise, an outdoor gym. I flick a puddle off the seat and try
a lift-your-own-body-with-your-very-own-arms machine.
I don’t last long because the handles are studded with metal prickles—
my hands have instant henna pattern done in Braille.
She’ll be coming round the mountain getting wetter all the while
and she meets a pagoda shelter with fine feng shui
so she does t’ai chi. (She means me.)
By now I knew that the “map” of the trail was an abstract cartoon, like most.
I was mildly lost and emerged in an unknown part of the city
that turned out to be
very close to home.
This week is The Guardian Walking the City Week. If you’re taking public transport in Seoul then a lot of walking is involved, inside and out of subway stations. So it suits me. I’m at the Seoul Art Space Yeonhui #GuardianWalking
Personal independence day:
I managed to work
an ATM machine and a bus
three trains and another money machine
all by myself. I’m Ms Commuter Queen
Nobody even felt obliged
to help me across the street.
I joined a full house screening
of My Year With Helen
by Gaylene Preston
in the 10th DMZ Doco Festival.
Film makers politicians and activists
took to heart
this feminist story of our time.
Listen up and hear our sisters:
they could hardly be more clear!
What does a beginner tourist do
on a Saturday in Seoul?
Start with orientation practice:
take bus number 7612
and go five stops
to Hongdik Uni station.
Map, signs, card, gates, signs, gate, done.
Next a hearty chicken lunch
in Hongdae, fried and fresh for once
which we consume like dainty gluttons.
Metro homework carries on
take Subway Line 5 this time
(the purple one)
to Gwanghwamun Station
and congregate at Exit 5
for a mini-walking tour
alongside Cheonggye Stream.
Map, signs, card, gates, signs, gate, done.
It rains and so the tour’s cut short
and we catch some young men
drumming while they dance and spin
and women dancing while they drum.
Next we follow our sexy guide
(seventy-six with two crook hips)
to his regular after-work cafe.
There I like the tofu soup
and the mystery of makgeolli
the living drink that’s milky white
rough and ready like a rice home brew
and touted as a health food too.
Back in Hongdae crowds are swarming
and I saw what I never thought I’d see
a punk musician trying hard
to snarl and scream
and looking cute and clean
in a brand new tidy T shirt.
After such a busy day
we slipped into a sheep cafe
for cup of tea and a gentle sniff
by a couple of bleached and back-combed lambs
who live indoors as fluffy toys.
Then it’s home again
on green bus 7612.
I must remember that.
Travel notes and photos by Rachel McAlpine. Share if you wish.
For twenty-eight days away
two long plane flights
lots of writing
and one or two posh dos
into my little bag I packed
three dresses (nice in the heat)
three pants (one merino for the plane)
three pairs of shoes
three jackets, undies, and three tops.
I only need two of each.
What was I thinking?
and it’s not too late to learn
the pleasure of wearing the same old thing
day after day after day.
I am fond of that same old thing
and it’s comfortable and clean
so I disremember
the pleasure and the stress
of choosing choosing choosing,
How shall I dress?
What shall I wear today?
Is this maybe perhaps maybe
the way old age should be?
Travel note and photos from Seoul Art Space—Yeonhui, by Rachel McAlpine