Cemetery — Day Seventeen by Kim Hyesoon, Translated by Don Mee Choi


A woman is lying on her side, holding onto a round boat
A well that can’t be hidden
burst after roaming about in the blood
She laughed all day long
clasping her burst vein
The dead woman laughed then cried
for everything was so hilarious

Sunlight was carried down below
in a bucket attached to the umbilical cord
then a jar full of tears came up
Like someone who cleans high-rises
you hung onto the window outside your body
and wiped off your tears

You came from the world over there
yet now you’re pregnant with that world
You wished in that world that you could stop thinking
yet you’re still thinking

On your grave
green grass grows then
decomposes, rotting from the roots

Like a newborn on an operating table
the woman who shoved her own neck into the grave
can’t stop laughing
during the hour of looking at the selfies on her phone

In the cemetery there are laughing faces, even laughing green hats in the ground

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.