A black, plump bird, as big as you, was at the door. You got up and took off your
nightgown and put on a black outfit. You had a hunch that you were about to receive
a message. You were skinny, but the bird was plump. In real life, or perhaps in your
dream, you heard a knocking on the window. You opened the window and there was
no one. You only saw something trying to stand up, like a shadow fluttering in the
wind, something that had lived stuck to the ground its entire life. As you opened the
door of the convenience store and entered, something pulled on your ankle. A hand
came up swiftly like a burp from the dark pit inside your body. From the unknown
place, the deepest place, the bottom of the bottom, you heard a familiar voice: Let’s
go let’s go. You were afraid that an unknown face might appear in the toilet water,
in the mirror. You wondered whether terror comes before sorrow. You shouted into
the receiver, Don’t bother calling if you’re not going to come. You could tell there
was someone listening on the other end. Once there was a lunar eclipse and, at the
moment of the full eclipse, the doors of the wardrobe opened wide then someone
crawled out saying: Let’s go let’s go. Startled, you screamed, and cold energy
embraced you. The all-day movie theater had gone bust, yet you felt as if you were
standing in the middle of a field where films showed non-stop, and your father
called the funeral parlor and requested a coffin made of limestone instead of wood.
That way water won’t get in, bugs won’t get in, so it’ll stay nice and dry. You were
sitting at the dining table but, as if you’d stepped out of a film, you couldn’t feel your
body. Even though you chewed loudly, none of it felt real. What more can I eat?
When you turned around, there was nothing on the table.
Do you want to be a friendly corpse?
Do you want to be a scary corpse?
Do you want to become silk that ghosts kiss?
Do you want to become a sack that ghosts kick?
Every, every day is the eve of death
The orator strikes his palm down on the table
Kim Hyesoon is one of the most prominent contemporary poets of South Korea. She lives in Seoul and teaches creative writing at the Seoul Institute of the Arts. Kim’s poetry in translation can be found in When the Plug Gets Unplugged (Tinfish, 2005), Anxiety of Words (Zephyr, 2006), and Mommy Must Be a Fountain of Feathers (Action Books, 2008), All the Garbage of the World, Unite! (Action Books, 2011), Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream (Action Books, 2014), Trilingual Renshi (Vagabond, 2015), and Poor Love Machine (Action Books, April 2016).
Don Mee Choi is the author of The Morning News is Exciting (Action Books, 2010) and Hardly War (Wave Books, April 2016). She has received a Whiting Award and Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize.