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  • Shall Time’s Best Jewel from Time’s Chest Lie Hid?, and: Mending, and: I Am Not a Noodles Delivery Boy, and: I Did Not Need a Bag
  • Choi Jeongrye
    Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé (bio) and Chung Eun-Gwi (bio)

shall time’s best jewel from time’s chest lie hid?

This flowing moment of time must once have been the dream of a moment. Now floating facedown in this flowing dream, I am writing something. I am dissolving. The dream that time’s origin dreamed when it burst forth, the first instant of time, is still flowing. Now and forever. The way old Moon-face softly sends forth his dreams as moonlight. Time’s dream is of a world of complete justice. A robust, beautiful, violent dream. Time’s dream, determined to destroy everything beautiful, wash away everything painful, flows on. Step forward, anyone who can constrain powerful time. The dream that this must be a just world. No one can stop it. Not even the moment of time that once dreamed the dream can reverse its own dream. Time and time’s dream can never face each other.

Shakespeare, Sonnet 65


Some elegant clothes were hanging on the line, so I tried them on and gazed at myself in the mirror, turned, and realized that I had lost my flower-patterned leather shoes. “My shoes are gone,” I complained, pouting. Then somebody offered to lend me a pair. When I tried them on, they fit perfectly. But I hesitated, not wanting to walk away wearing someone else’s shoes. So I took them off, woke up, and discovered it had been a dream, and the person who had lent me the shoes was a friend who had died. Losing my shoes in a dream, the way the flower pattern on the lost shoes had been so pretty, the way I had enjoyed putting on a dead person’s shoes—all of it made me afraid and I told my family to be especially careful of the traffic.

Tinkers. That is what we used to call the people who would repair the holes in pots and pans. They used to pass by shouting, “Pots mended!” like merchants of death. They carried large packs on their shoulders, like camels passing through the eye of a needle. This world’s reality closing in to patch up the holes left by dreams. What must happen in order to mend the dream? Somebody said she had a bad dream of losing her shoes and her husband was dead. I heard that one when I was a child. [End Page 50]

Today, I got a call from the school where I have been lecturing for several years. I was told not to come to work anymore. There’s no way this kind of shit will fill up the hole.

During the wake for my father-in-law, three people lost their shoes, even though the nephews busily kept the shoes in order as people went in and out. The chief mourner felt obliged to comfort the ill-omened hearts by sending gift coupons for new shoes to the people whose shoes had been lost. If someone sends me outside the dream something like that, should I hurry to that dream house once again to put on those flower-patterned shoes and a magic robe? No way, surely. But how was the camel in the dream able to pass through the needle’s eye?

i am not a noodles delivery boy

I wanted to become an artist. While in university, I used to think I should quit studying Korean literature and take up fine art. I thought that way for four years, but in the end I never did it. I wanted to paint a picture of my cousin crying when the chick he had raised was made into chicken stew. But the sort of pictures I wanted to paint had already been done by someone else. Like the painting of a boy delivering noodles from a Chinese restaurant. His motorbike speeding, sparks flashing from its wheels, the delivery boy comes, his hair streaming in the wind, and the noodles flowing behind...


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pp. 50-52
Launched on MUSE
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