First Spoken Words for Seventy Years

Cho Hye Do and Cho Sun Do are sisters
who hadn’t seen each other
for seventy years and didn’t even know
if the other was still alive.

Thousands had applied several years before
many died waiting as the politics
of the Korean Peninsula played out,
the seeming intractability of dogma.

Well into their eighties they were the lucky ones,
apart for so long they barely recognised each other
for three days they tried to catch up
in carefully organised meetings
arranged more for the publicity than the humanity.

For the first time in seventy years
they could hug and kiss
they poured over photos of family and friends
fingers touching images of long ago,
actual embraces no longer possible.
They spoke of those that fled and those that couldn’t
of what happened to her and him and them,
told stories of husbands and children
of lives lived and lives now ended.
Tears flowed for times and events
that couldn’t be shared
and for people they missed
who would now never be seen again,
while cameras rolled and clicked for the propaganda.

Then their short time together was over,
Cho Hye Do and Cho Sun Do
hugged and embraced for the last time
the buses were filled once more
to cross back over the DMZ.

They will never speak or see each other ever again.

Rob McKinnon and his wife and three children live in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. Read other articles by Rob.