April 7, 2014
Apr 7, 2014
Read translator Jake Levine's interview with Kim Kyung Ju.
Salt Farm at Night
dragging like dead men on the river
darkness falls on the salt farm
island shadows are carried on the wind
soaked fish in water
white snow fogging the surface
through a scrapped vessel’s window, the reflection of the river’s darkness
a stain seagulls left on the cabin floor
water at night peeling off the scales of fish
the collarbone of the clouds reflect the distant light of a house in mourning
eyes come to see the ebbing tide blur the salt farm
and at night evaporate to white
as a man placing a stone on his injured horse
sinking it into the river and returning
here is the landscape that wind might have painted
spreading the white sound of water like words from the dead
inside the sea without light, why don’t we call that sound the soul
red doesn’t spread across the sky, red crosses underwater
for many thousands of years watch the bitter light of the river rolling
the water’s internal organs to see
The Night Text Messages from the Young Girls of the Sugar Factory Roll By
Below freezing my beautiful sugar is melting. Ugh. Like bacteria, floating snowflakes. People come out on the streets and are hit by snow like “D”. They say if lots of snow falls on the body, the body melts. With soft feet we climb to the roof and text. I miss you. Below freezing tonight, they say they will give us a blanket because it is cold. My beautiful sugar is melting. I have to buy new bird feed. Tonight, below freezing, will the snow fall “Do Re Mi Fa Sol La” and sleep fly through the window? At dawn while watching falling snow through the dormitory window “Do Rae Mi Fa So La” like a charcoal brick, I took one shit. Ugh. My beautiful sugar is melting, but if the bird freezes to death I must sit on the chair with my eyes open all night. My brother who wrote beautiful poems put me up a barren tree. He told me they say if you are holding the bird that died with its eyes open, you must fly following the floating snow in the eyes of the dead bird. You must fly all night and that’s life. Brother, where are those sentences now? Dig a dog hole in the wall. Got to buy bird feed, but the plastic earrings I bought keep falling on the floor. My beautiful sugar is melting and the bugs that melted to death in the sugar bite their nests and fly away. Every time I carry down the off-white panties I hung on the roof, piece by piece against my chest, where does our sugar fly off to? My calves break like sugar cubes. My beautiful sugar is melting and red snow inside my head flies wildly. Gathering next to the wall, we pass around the frozen gum from our pockets. My beautiful sugar is melting and snowflake fins waft in the city. Below freezing, I want to live whispering at night and curl my eyelashes like a mannequin. Ugh. Dreams where I wear pajamas and am packing boxes are awful. My sugar is melting, but I am Spearmint. I am Juicy Fruit. Underneath my skirt, gym clothes. Underneath my skirt, gym clothes. Like lowering panties in a cramped bathroom, goodbyes are not as embarrassing as ideas. Ugh. My beautiful sugar is melting, but I am inside the snowman I made. Will you come and play at my grave? I will give you all the deer I carved from soap.
Does the existence of time have anything to do with God?—Levinas, “Le temps et l’autre”
At the end of an alley, clothes in a yellow box
old clothes I used to wear and blankets
I cram and run
from the clothes I don’t perfectly fold
and feel uncomfortable when I turn away.
One day soy sauce spilt on one side of a sleeve
falling out the box like a melted window
if darkness completely fills in this alley
and some shadow rummages through the box
it may understand others’ heat
like the interior of another’s eyes I borrowed for a moment
or a pocket, again and again, I used to turn inside out
time and so on is not something that is all mine, I think
I will cover the clothes, I will return the blankets
during the passing of this life
for a moment the heat of my body will comfort and warm.
With two hands in the pockets of my pants
all day when I lie against the wall
and the window covers me with heat
and my skin is outside every blanket, the seams loosen
and I lie down in the pale yellow clothes of death.
The space I don’t understand
that I entered through borrowed time
is moral in a different life.
And at night others in the afterlife begin to congest.
Translated from the Korean by Jake Levine, with the assistance of Jung Hi-Yeon ("Salt Farm at Night"; "Afterlife) and Hedgie Choi ("The Night Text Messages from the Young Girls of the Sugar Factory Roll By").
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April 07, 2014