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Cosmos Flower, and: Someone Who Makes a Bridge Feel Lonely, and: Springtime Sea, and: A Flower, and: Rice Cake
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Cosmos Flower, and: Someone Who Makes a Bridge Feel Lonely, and: Springtime Sea, and: A Flower, and: Rice Cake
Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé (bio)

Cosmos Flower

Empty pocketof someone who has never persecuted anyone.

When shall we go back homeand weeping relate to fatherall that has happened since we left? [End Page 77]

Someone Who Makes a Bridge Feel Lonely

God,suppose I took a poem such as this,transformed and reworked it,couldn't you consider that a new poem?

    I see someone crossing a bridge.    He walks, stops briefly, and looks at the distant hills,    walks, pauses and does the same again.

    A little later someone else crosses the bridge.    Passing with quick steps he is soon across,    gone without a trace. The bridge remains empty, alone.

    Someone quickly crossing a bridge makes the bridge feel lonely.

There's a poem that says that.(Don't people say there are many good poems?)

    If you say it's not possible, well, it can't be helped.    But please, God,    don't make a poem feel lonely    by skimming through it too fast.

    If I looked up at the stars too often,    wouldn't the stars get dirty?    If I looked up at the sky too much,    wouldn't the sky get dirty?

He is a spirit trembling as he quits this world. [End Page 78]

Springtime Sea

The village head's wifehad a big behind,it looked just like a big bowl,it looked just like a big bowl.

The village head's wifewas big-bosomed, too,the front of her worn vestlooked like a grave-mound.looked like a grave-mound.

How I longed to lie like rose-mossbeside her as she dozed.How I longed to sinkinto her faint snoring.

How I longed to be rebornas her third son,they were all so good-looking,go up to Seoul and set up with some wealthy widow. [End Page 79]

A Flower

In the wild stormthe flower was finally flattened.

After a night-long feverI rose with a haggard faceand pushed open the window

We must live!

Stand up, flower!You have to feed your kidsand send them off to school. [End Page 80]

Rice Cake

Once maternal grandmother went off, a bowl of rice cakes on her head,to sell them in this neighborhood and that,I used to pull out scraps of glass, bottle tops, broken pocket knives,        medicine bottles, handle-less knives, burst beanbags, hidden on        the sunny side of the old wattle fence behind the privy,and play with them.Bored of that after half the day had passed,I would innocently chase the chickens from the house behind,then end up being scolded by my youngest auntfor scuffling my shoes along,I would eat a bowl of dumplings, more kimchi than dumplings,mingled with tears and snot.I would hum a line or two of "Yellow Shirt" that I had learned        from the radio,then collapse on the warm floor and sleep like a catthen seeing the door was dim, unsure if it was morning or evening,frightened, with one cheek bright red, I would cry outand my aunt putting wood on the fire would pretend it was morning,When grandmother came home at sunset,if business had been good, I would be so unhappy.I would spit on my fingertips and dip them time after timeinto the bean flour left at the bottom of the bowluntil my fingers ached.

Ah, those rice cakes that grandmotherused to stuff into my mouth that gaped,longing for mother,passing Yongsan market, I meet them again on a shabby stall,I meet grandmother, huddled dozing. [End Page 81]

Kim Sa-in

Kim Sa-in was born in Poŭn, North Ch'ungch'ŏng Province, in 1955. He has published two collections of poetry, Night Letters (Pam e ssŭnŭn p'yŏnji, 1987) and Liking in Silence (Kamanhi choa hanŭn, 2006), and a book of essays, A Warm Bowl of Rice (2006). Among his awards are the Sin...