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  • Five Poems and an Essay
  • Kim Hyesoon (bio)
    Translated by Chae-Pyong Song (bio) and Don Mee Choi (bio)

The Horizon

Who broke it?The horizon beyond,the fissure between heaven and earth,an evening where crimson water spreads out from the gap.

Who broke it?The slit between upper and lower eyelids,The scars of my body broken because of emptiness within and without,an evening where tears erupt from the gap.

Can only a wound flow into a wound?The glow of sunset rushes toward me as I open my eyes.When a wound touches a wound,red water flows without end.Even the exit, disguised as you, shuts in darkness.

Who broke it?The white day from the dark night. [End Page 241] During the day she becomes a hawk,at night he becomes a wolf.Through the gap, the evening of our encounterbrushes by like a knife blade.

—Translated by Chae-Pyong Song [End Page 242]


We looked at each other in the other worldas if I existed inside the black-and-white picture he was looking down from.

Inside his picture I always felt cold.Coughing trees were standing along the river, hacking away.

Whenever I awoke, I was always climbing a snowy mountain.

After narrowly making it around a corner, there were still vast white snowfieldsand endless cliffs that dropped sharply from the edge.

That evening I looked out at his eyes, wide open like a frozen sky.

A rumor spread that a ghost with the flu was coming to the village.At every chimney, clouds shook their bodies.

He is not in my body, because I drove him out.

With an avalanche in my heart I shivered for more than an hour.

As coughing trees shook down snowballs,jagged ice shot out from the open valley.

Barefaced, I was sitting on a frozen bench,withstanding the wind, with quivering lips.

I wanted to escape from this frame he was looking down from.

—Translated by Chae-Pyong Song [End Page 243]


I leave my starfish in the Pacific Oceanmy cuckoo in Tibetmy sloth in the forest of the Amazonand I cook and lecture and age like this

I tie my fingers to a pine tree in the tundraand bury my eyes beneath the vast snow of the North Poleand leave my heart to melt in the abyss of the Pacific Oceanand I cook, eat, sleep, drink, and even laugh like this

Therefore sadness blows in from SumeruCold tears arrive from the bottom of an ice sheet that never meltsall year longTherefore fever arrives from the Saharafrom a faraway place overgrown with cacti that can't closetheir mouths, for needles stick out from their tonguesthe inside of my open mouth is hot as lava

So don't keep coming to me, my starfish, crazy starfishIt is said that you were made from a fleck of riceand can become as big as a house, a mountaintopDon't return here even if a ditch forms from the tearsthat I shed every night from missing youthe ditch is not a place for you to liveIf you keep coming back I'll pin a star to my hairand all the night of the world will explode inside me

A fine new day arrives like a clear sky after the typhoonWhen I stand in the street, wearing a pair of dead gutter-rat shoes,my butterflies blow in from all over even though my body is so small [End Page 244] Why are my arms, my head, my legs, my limbs so distant?

I must have been chased by all the wind in the world and got wreckedinside this bodyMy arms and legs become distant in all directionsmy head feels hazy

Since I always lack oxygen, my footsteps move across the tundraBeing on time is my sickness, but I need to go out to be on time

Someone stares into me for a while then fleesMy feet are outside of my vision

My feet gradually fade away andtake off...


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pp. 241-249
Launched on MUSE
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