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  • Five Poems
  • Kim Min-Jeong (bio)
    Translated by Jeon Seung-hee (bio)

Unexpected Effect

In the dead of winter, children in Kangwŏn Province Brandish dried pollacks, Which indeed make a swishing sound quite like swords. Excited, children brandish them even more. As the edge is everything to a sword, The best part of a dried pollack is its body. Dried pollacks, served in a soup for breakfast — My younger sister spoons it first, As if she were the head of our family, Because she is lactating. [End Page 307]

Minjeong’s Mom, Hagi’s Mom

Two women in the warmer part of the ondol room Laugh, slapping each other’s back. Returning from a supermarket thirty minutes away With a tub of Together,1 with three spoons stuck in it, they Laugh, pinching each other’s thigh. One of them abruptly stands up, saying, “It started.” On the floor, there’s Blood as if from a nosebleed, what you find after rubbing what felt like a snivel. “You still do it? You must be fed up, huh!” One of them, taking off her white socks and wiping the floor with them, Laughs, rolling her two blood-smeared socks. Friends. [End Page 308]

Not Knowing Well

Mom filleted her own hands while filleting halibut. I took her to the emergency room and laid her on the bed. Her doctor’s name was Kim Kŭn of all names.2 Oh, does Kŭn mean ‘root’? Your name is the same as the name of someone I know. He was busy stitching. There’s a poet named Kim Kŭn . . . Busy stitching, he didn’t say a word. There is such a word as No-good-feeling. [End Page 309]

Not Ugly, but Hideous

Past midnight, in front of a toy stall across the street from the Kumkang Shoe Store, a man is picking a stuffed animal for a woman. The woman points to an extra-large white bear, almost as tall as herself. Since I cannot sleep without you, I’ll sleep with him in my arms whenever you’re away. The vendor briskly cleans the white bear wrapped in clear plastic with a duster. Knitting her brows, the woman folds her arms. The vendor vigorously cleans the white bear wrapped in clear plastic with a dry cloth. Don’t you have a new one? The white bear became a silver bear because of all the dust. The vendor goes to the next stall, borrows an extra-large white bear, and comes back, carrying it on her back like a grown child. Meanwhile, the man and woman go across the street. They are already on the other side, as the green light was blinking, as it in fact suited them to run away with lightning speed. Damn you, sons of bitches, you, fuckers! Once, we asked a vendor who was selling the national flags to take them out so we could take a good look. We negotiated the price with her as if we were going to buy one, but then ran away with lightning speed, after saying it’s too expensive. Like the man and woman, we probably deserved the curse she threw at us with her fist raised, Damn you!

Because we were in love. [End Page 310]

A Happiness Called Harm

The man who proposed to me on the day we first met Dumped me exactly a month later. Announcing the break-up, he said:

What did you say when we were passing by the bus terminal one night? All the buses come back to sleep, as it’s getting late. You pretended to be innocent, didn’t you? Because you’re a poet? Is that poetry? I didn’t realize.

You didn’t laugh at all while we were watching My Boss, My Teacher, did you? It’s because it wasn’t funny at all. I would have laughed if it were. You put on airs, didn’t you? Because you’re a poet? Is that poetry? I didn’t realize.

You ate the rose petal decorations on the plate of snapper sashimi, didn’t you? It’s because I didn’t want to waste those...


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pp. 307-312
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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