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  • Weekday Cinema, and: Touching a Stone by the Riverside, and: Touch of Music for the Deaf, and: Barefoot, and: Kafka’s Sleep
  • Park Seo Yeong
    Translated by Chung Eun-Gwi (bio) and Brother Anthony of Taizé (bio)

weekday cinema

Hearts melting like ice, flowing away, dialogue melting away like snowflakes, of course they vanish, as I never try to hold them back. Sometimes I dream I’m strangling myself. Like a scarf, my hands might have strangled you, too. When I dozed off in the almost empty weekday cinema, what passed by was youth, what remained was defeat.

People died, unclear how, in an instant, the bodies were tossed into a valley, in an instant, a flower bed grew in the weekday cinema. Prague and Auschwitz, “Bat” and “Mother.” As my territory is a corner seat in the back row, I set propriety aside and kiss you on the lips, watching to the bitter end, until they throw me out.

touching a stone by the riverside

We ate hot silence. Though they cut into our fingers, we stroked their shiny fins and gills. Having lived for so long by the water, you are one of the family of fish. We wandered in search of somewhere to flow, then suddenly, like sand and streams being moved about, like a rented room flapping against a telegraph pole, we changed where we lived. From underground to aboveground, the day we were forced into the rented room, [End Page 20] the rustling clouds were heard. The rented room shifted around us and pushed us out like the eggs of a reed warbler. Surviving unbroken, in countless numbers on this tender riverside, we stroke their shiny fins and gills.

touch of music for the deaf

Two fish are sharing one another’s light! They cause each other’s chimes to ring! The air, as if about to explode, is amplified! Silence, rent apart, is flowing red! The crosswalk has shifted! Someone is passing, passing! Two fish are disappearing! The street is trembling in the blue air! The green traffic light is flickering! The scales that have fallen off time’s body are swollen! Time, which could not reach you, is ill! Without screaming, we are passing, passing through each other! Lowered eyes are hot like mourning!

Title taken from a photo essay by René Burri (1933–2014) published in Life magazine in the 1950s.


The toes are the source of weeping. A woman crouches in front of low-growing portulaca, and another looks up at tall sunflowers. Both are intent upon their feet, and both are crying. Their toes are torn petals. From their hearts they put down the longest roots. They shake the flowers’ manes. If I silently press these ten notes, music flows down, falling tears drench the miniature roses, and sometimes rebound onto the sunflowers. I’m not sure how far a heart can go. The heart that came back is not unlike the others. The toes are weeping. As if soothing a heart that has wandered as far as the moon and the sun, as far as the dark stars, the toes are weeping. [End Page 21]

You roots, who have fallen asleep, having wandered away without shoes, I tried to embrace you but you withdrew, burst open, blossomed, and fell never quiet. You grow fast. Things that blossom at night valiantly weep alone.

kafka’s sleep

The pigeon spent the winter in a ventilation pipe, then flew away. Now its droppings alone remain in piles, sleep’s excrement, hard as a fossil.

Something seen on a visit to Seoul— in front of the entrance to a crowded noodle place, at lunchtime, a man without a ventilation pipe was sleeping. Customers entered the restaurant by jumping lightly over the sleeping man’s legs. Perhaps because he had been there for so long, the customers and the owner had come to think of him as sleep’s excrement.

In just a day, we became broken down, a homeless mother and daughter, and collapsed in any seat on the train; immediately we fell asleep and didn’t stir. Even if the others considered us sleep’s stinking excrement, we slept well and...


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pp. 20-22
Launched on MUSE
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