- Five Poems
Spring Has Come
A guy spills a can of green paint. I don’t have red. I’ll have to chop off my wrist. [End Page 269]
My Beautiful Laundrette1
To Grandmother who had managed to crawl up to the second floor balcony, lean on its railings, and yell at me for leaving her alone, When I ran away from her curses that sounded like the cawing of a raven in a cage, After handing her a bottle of clear liquor;
To Grandmother who hurled abuses that were flapping Like blue diapers hung on every rooftop in an alley on a windy day When I ran away, holding hands with a neighborhood friend;
Although I ran away from her without ever turning around, “Bitch, is that bitch your secret lover?” Rang sharply in the street like a broken golden horn.
On that street I was holding your soft hand in mine, “Maybe I am really in love with her.” To Grandmother who awoke the man in me like Proust, the French master of the literature of reminiscence;
To myself who yelled at you, my sister, and opposed you even more stubbornly than mom and dad, When you were crying in front of me, because you wanted to marry a young would-be composer who neither had money nor knew tricks;
To my sister, who treasured the completely tattered Selected American Short Stories That I read and put aside: “You’re the worst snob in the world. Why did you give me ‘The Gift of the Magi,’ if you were going to be like this?”2 [End Page 270]
“I may, but you shouldn’t.” The words I couldn’t utter pricked my index finger in the pocket of my orange baseball jacket like a safety pin left there and forgotten long ago.
Although I wrote a dissertation on the solemn principle of strict emptiness, The only thing I remember now is The stain on cotton cloth in the remarks by Monk Nagarjuna.3 The stain was . . . multi-colored. Like in the poem by Kim Yi-dŭm,4 Perhaps it was a star-shaped stain? To all those who are wondering only about their shapes and colors;
I show you my beautiful laundrette.
To my first love and ex-boyfriend, who smiled—perhaps he was sneering at me or maybe just envious of me—and said, “You’re still living like a student who’s boarding herself,” the first time he visited my house in ten years;
You, harmless bastard! Aren’t you living with a woman with a coy mouth in an apartment in a newly developed suburban city? In fact, I loved that stupidity of yours, those dreams like Bachelard’s clouds, which you blew into my room and which floated in it.
The Haengdang-dong moon village district office, in which I worked as a grade nine civil servant for six months after I [End Page 271] graduated from high school.5 I can’t even go back to that labyrinthine place, because it became a large apartment complex. In that scrawny alley, spiders must have been dying alone, crying out to all the gods of the world. “If you hadn’t quit your job then, what pay grade would you be by now?” Father still tries to calculate like a parent who keeps toting up the age of his stillborn child. To Father who’s still nagging me like a child, “How nice it would be if you stopped being a poet and teacher and made some money! We could move to Bundang”;6
I show you my beautiful laundrette- A place in which, once you bury your face in the heaps of hanging clothes, you can’t see any mysterious expressions, Confessions that are neither my clothes nor yours, Confessions hanging way up high only in here, because they can’t be worn outside. I show you this natural dirt of mine- What you, hygiene freaks, reach out to and love.
The harder you iron the clothes, the more they stick to your skin. All that was written in the old credit...