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  • The Restaurant Chair, and: The Moon Drum, and: The Utmost End, and: The Lighthouse, and: Umbilical Cord
  • Moon In-soo (bio)
    Translated by Chae-Pyong Song (bio) and Anne M. Rashid (bio)

The Restaurant Chair

In a monsoon rain, by the road of Susŏng Lake resort, under the   tent of Samch’o Restaurant, a white plastic chair has been   sitting for many days and nights. Only its bones are left, so the   rattling is gone. The rain must have washed it away. Because   it is not being busily dragged around, I can now see its skinny   four legs clearly.

Lacking fur, the chair doesn’t even bark. The chair neither jumps up   wagging its tail nor creeps, but looks like a quiet lily blooming.   I would like to give it a proper name as when you call a loyal   servant. Is it because all of its insides have been removed? Even   in the rain it doesn’t complain. The chair with a back and arms   finally feels at ease for a long while after a long time.

Is it because of summer’s heavy bottom? Full dark clouds press   down heavily on my heart. Life is like this. Lately I too ponder a   vacation, this way or that. The chair has stretched out its wings,   twisting its body as in yoga. An expert has no business getting wet, even in the rain; the chair   is resting. [End Page 45]

The Moon Drum

The full moon, a blooming silence. A distant mother, making no sound. Though nothing is written on it, isn’t it a classic of all ages? That whole roundness is the compassionate Word. The moon waxes brightly with its whole face, and illuminates. For it’s a drum, whose edges spread without limits. It pains me, as if stabbed with a dagger. Till the bottom of darkness breaks up and the red head pushes out slowly, press it down, this answer taking so long to emerge is the full moon floating high. [End Page 46]

The Utmost End

Right, at some moment, that must be part of the dying. A day that no one, even a god, can pack fully has passed. Regardless of a flower’s blooming or withering, a day has passed again. Like the soil that has just finished making a grave shovel by shovel, like a vanishing point, small as a mustard seed that a bird spots after a   long flight, the empty air into which the bird disappears far off, piercing westward, a day has passed. And come to think of it, this feeling like the tip of an awl, a feeling of insignificance that rises from somewhere, is too sharp to see. [End Page 47]

The Lighthouse

An old man walks along the breakwater pier. One side is calm, the other boiling. Like when he turns around if his sagging shoulder falls asleep, or turns around if his ear aches, today too he walks back and forth along the pier as though   exercising. Ah, the asymmetrical broad path— the old man’s steps are unsteady. Has he pressed on, putting one foot in front of the other? The grand lighthouse slowly rises from the end of the pier, and the sun sets. The old man’s shadow descends in red beneath the horizon like a   large bird. [End Page 48]

Umbilical Cord

A young man moves into the deserted house on the outskirts of the mountain, and goes to work every day. A thread of road that wasn’t there before emerges, long and wriggling like an umbilical cord.

To any hopelessness there is an umbilical cord. There are countless times that don’t give any hope. Rice wine bottles scatter around the yard— a storm has passed, covering them. The flame of grass lasts longer. When he cut down the overgrown grass, many snake skins   appeared, but the man still crouches in the deserted house.

The deserted house appears to embrace him like a worn coat. The sound of rain on taro leaves in the kitchen garden that was busy all night wrapping itself inside the leaves, the morning when gourd dippers emerge from the roof of the outhouse with...


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pp. 45-49
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