Ko Un - Market Grannies

At Ansong market, held every five days,
a band of grannies come out with goods to sell.
They look innocent as long ago
but they're not without guile, deep down.
With a fine show o candor
they make ready to cheat.
Their lowland garlic, they would have us believe,
has all been dug up in the hills.
When most of their goods are gone
they dump the remainder in the afternoon,
calling it the first sale of the day.
Then a bit later when all of it is gone,
when there's nothing left to mark down,
they pick up what's left at the wholesaler's
and sell it at “clearance” to finish.
Unbelievable! We give ourselves an entire day
to be chiseled by these seventy-or eighty-year-old crones.

And then on my way home
I mistook hibiscus for cotton rose.
Just like them, the old hibiscus
Beguiled the fool that I am.

Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé, Young-moo Kim, and Gary Gach