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  • Five Poems
  • Kim Seung-Hui (bio)
    Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé (bio) and Kim Hyong-Jin

A Parcel of Eggs

Someone is walking along.That person must be extremely poorwith no proper clothes to keep out the winter cold,just some old paper bags covering rags.

What did those bags once contain, I wonder.On the paper covering part of the person's back some letters are    printed:"Fragile goods.Handle with care."

There you are, placed before me.Like a row of straw-packed eggs delivered as a parcel,rib collides with rib andone person makes another shudder as never before. [End Page 215]

Santa Cello

Early in the morning in the back alleys of Sinch'ona lot of last night remains, scattered along the roadsides.Sitting huddled in the roadway, not realizing it's a roadway,a white balloon is sleepingslender-shouldered.

Someone blew that white balloon up, huff-puff, tied it loosely with a    white thread,then because a niece of mine ran away from home,I got out of the car and started shaking the white balloon's body.Look, it's daybreak, dear, the cars on their way to work are lined up,    time you got up,you must get out of here.The white balloon remains huddled there, sitting on the roadway,with, bluntly set down beside it, last night's empty soju bottlesand a small traveling bag like a letter of resignation.

Dear little girl, this shitty world, biscuit-like, where you're unwilling    to lift your face,have not the slightest thoughtof lifting your face and looking up,dear little girl, my runaway niece, Myŏng-ju, hmm? Myŏng-ju?

Still incapable of escaping from yesterday,blocking today's roadway, that white balloon,uncertain when it will leap out into the roadwaydressed only in its underwear, that white balloonwhile dreamlike sunlight falls absentlyinto her hair like yesterday's boiled noodles,the white balloon claims it's dead tired, [End Page 216] and I've been unable to meet her since she ran away to a dream of    sunlightseveral years ago, and now at last in a proper house composed of    sunlightsound asleep, that white balloon, unaware that today has come . . . . [End Page 217]

Blue 5 Amazing Grace

I awoke one morningto find my head was in a lion's jaws.How did that happen?My room had vanished, the floor had vanished,while the bone-structures of the lion's scarlet mouth,like a wilderness where wild beasts roar,were approaching and closing right before my eyes.

There I was, my head stuck trembling in a lion's mouth-is it too late?I can hear the lion's teeth, like sharp swords, crunchingas they gnaw at my skull."I'm a dog.""I'm a bird caught in a cage.""I'm an unwilling good-for-nothing."I can hear van Gogh roaring too,blood is already trickling down and pooling under the lion's tonguebut I am quite unable to move my body.Faint voices ring out."Pray withdraw this head from the jaws of the lion."The voice of a research assistant from distant Pittsburgh rings out."Is this the end of my life, then?"

Inside the lion's jawswill birdsong ever be heard again?Will the babbling of a brook ever be heard again?

There's someone who lived for thirteen years unaware he had a    bullet in his head.That was possible because he did not know. [End Page 218] One old man lived fifty-six years with a bullet in his head.As I stuff my head into the lion's jawsI can't tell if I'll live another thirteen years or fifty-six years even.It's me who gave up hope,not hope that gave me up.Days are coming when a spider will catch and eat a snake,a snake swallow a crocodile.Days are coming when not one bone of my head will be broken in    the lion's jaws,not a hair of my head will be bruised,and I shall survive...