The US 10th Army Corps was beginning to retreat from Port of Heungnam on December 10, 1950. The Korean refugees were coming to the port to get a boat to the South.
Captain Leonard La Rue’s 100,000-ton merchant fleet was ready to embark for the South Sea, but he could not disregard the refugees seeking the lifeboat. Meredith Victory left the port with them on December 22 and arrived safely at Koje Island on Christmas Day . They sang Christmas carols.
The 14,000 refugees were standing shoulder to shoulder on the ship’s open decks like anchovies in a small can. Only heat was body heat augmented by togetherness. They could not drink or eat during the voyage. The ship was not supposed to carry any passengers other 47 crew members. Five babies were born on the sea. No one got hurt when they disembarked at the Island. It was a miracle.
When he was ready to leave Heungnam Port, Captain La Rue heard the words, “Don’t leave the refugees in the port!” Those words made him enter the Catholic monastery and changed his name Brother Marinus. It comes not from the Latin word for the sea but from Mary, “the Blessed Mother of God.” He said: “I think often of that voyage. I think of how such a small vessel was able to hold so many persons and surmount endless perils without harm to a soul. And as I think, the clear, unmistakable message comes to me that on that Christmastide, in the bleak and bitter waters off the shores of Korea, God’s own hand was at the helm of my ship.”
A miracle was witnessed by Captain La Rue, 47 crew members, 14,000 refugees, and five new babies, collectively. The miracle still remains with waves of the winter sea; the miracle still shines with the stars in the blue and dark winter sky. The miracle still cleans my soul in the cold winter night, long after the ship was dismantled, and even after Brother Marinus passed away to Heaven.
First, it had no symptoms in the firms on Wall Street.
Later, it was known as cancer.
Very quickly, the cancer spread to the whole body.
They detected an AIG virus in a small lab.
Strangely, the firms made profits in the last ten years or so.
They enjoyed bubbles all along the Wall.
Inside the bubbles the virus was hibernating like a frog and snake.
Then, they declared bankruptcies.
It was all that simple.
They went to the taxpayers for a bailout.
Innocent investors fell down on the Street of the world.
65 percent of their investments disappeared without a scar.
The cancer spread out new viruses
Subprime virus, Freddie Mac virus, Fannie Mae virus,
Greenspan virus and Madoff virus.
Then, GM, Ford and Chrysler fell down.
Viruses breeding new viruses
Greed, swindle and corruption
In bubbles or fog that kill innocent people slowly and gradually.
Unprecedented casualties in human history as yet unknown.
No inventor has yet discovered the vaccine
which can kill the Greenspan virus and Madoff virus.
Good doctors just announced:
We should study more about those new viruses.
I am nostalgic to the agrarian society in this modern age.
In the long winter nights, a farmer’s dreams are narrow,
Over and over, he enters the furrow.*
*quoted from Robert Haas’ poem, “Iowa, January.”
Yearn Hong Choi’s most recent poetry book, Moon of New York, was published in 2008.