November 16, 2010
Backpacking with a Book
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November 17, 2010
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Jacques Prévert: The Cat and the Bird

Backpacking with a Book

A grieving village hears
The song of the wounded bird
It is the only bird of the village
And it is the only cat of the village
Who has half-eaten the bird
And the bird stops singing
And the cat stops purring
And licking his paw
And the village gives
The bird a marvelous funeral
And the cat who is invited
Walks behind the little straw casket
The little girl who carries the casket
Cannot stop crying
“If I knew that this would break your heart
I would have eaten the whole bird
And then I would have told you
The bird freely flew away,
Freely to the ends of the world
Somewhere too far
To come back to that place
I would have told you
At least it would have taken your sadness
It would have been only disappointing and

I encountered this poem in a Korean manhwa. With constant exposure to manga, one could easily tell if it is Japanese or Korean with the artist’s hand stroke and the treatment of the story. Korean is psychological and cerebral.

The suffering often resides not in the wholeness of loss but in its half-existence.

The student’s retort when his teacher asked him rather irritatingly why he answered all Bs on the entire exam:

Because of numbers. The numbers came alive. They spun over my head for a while and disappeared into the air. The room was filled with the fear of the lost numbers. Noone else knows about the numbers’ suffocating pain and anxiety, that’s why I held them tightly into a line. Wherever they go, it will be less scary if they’re all together.

—Kim So Hee, Cat and Bird (Entropy Scanlations)

Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona! I’m in my early 30s and is currently based in Ha Noi, Vietnam.I primarily write poetry and short stories in Cebuano and lengthy travel essays in English. Blogging has become an outlet to think out loud. I live the life I set for myself. I try to live an unapologetic life. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at Find me somewhere else!

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