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  • Face, A Hunchback, A Tiger, A Crack, Chewing Gum
  • Kim Ki-taek (bio)
    Translated by Chung Eun-Gwi (bio) and Brother Anthony of Taizé (bio)


Since my eyes were tired and blurry, I briefly buried my face in my hands.The face covered by my hands was dark and once the darkness had penetrated my handsmy palms touched my skull.My hands, seeming to sense something wonderful, felt the bone.If I touched it too suddenly I felt that something would be lost.So I set about exploring it bit by bit, gingerly,that cold, unfriendly object, interested in nothing,that solid ruin that most likely existed before my face formed.

You, face, stuck to the skull’s shell,forming expressions as you smile, weep, frown,you, face, thin as the heart,never sleeping, never thinking, never sorrowing,my skull is always watching you,watching the face that blooms briefly then fades,the long hours stretching on even after the face’s memory has been erased, [End Page 271] stretching behind the faceseeing with huge eyes pierced like sunglass-sized holes.

After a while I removed the hands that had been feeling the skull.In a flash, sunlight turned into flesh and covered my skull,turning into face.The face felt awkward on suddenly being covered after long abolitionand I blinked for a time. Having at last got my eyes back,I quickly began to focus on the figures in the document. [End Page 272]

A Hunchback

In the underpass,pressed down by the low-curving darkness,the old man could never be seen.On my way to work,every day he was therebut all I glimpsed was alwaysjust an empty palm, a few coins,or sometimes a little face living concealed beneath a spine,a white face pressed down by the force that makes cement set,but on most days not even that could be seen.

One day, I saw the old man asleep quietlyon the hot, noisy high-noon road.He was incubating a large egg on his back;he had crawled into the egg,and was sleeping curled up like a fetus.It seemed something was about to crack the shell and emerge,something was about to stand up,stretching until the iron-bar-like spine snapped;the egg looked so very large and precarious.A sound of breathing louder than the noise of the vast citycould be heard faintly.Over the darkness as it crouched incubating the egglight fell all day long.

The next day, the old man was nowhere to be seen. [End Page 273]

A Tiger

Eyes hidden in a long, slow yawn and lazy look.Eyes fully catching the wind and footsteps that brush the grass.The tiger does not move even on seeing prey pass before its nose.The heavier the sleep wrapping its stomach, the more pleasantly it rolls along.The jungle, refracted beneath the sleep’s surface, becomes a blue dream.The fur gently covering muscles and clawsstretches far off, a field following the bold lines of its striped pattern.Prey large and small rolling and playing on the soft fur.The forest shaking and rolling wide leaves.But soon the empty stomach will radiate light from drowsy eyes.The legs will raise its heavy body and start to prowl slowly.Hiding the big bones’ movements in placid fur, its slow stepswill measure the short space of the single effort it will have to make.The force to make quick legs and sensitive whiskers stiff and slowis needed, but only for a moment.The task of turning the last fierce effort into meek preyis enough for the motion making the heavy body into a light curve.A hot noon, a peaceful, silent junglewhere the hungry eyes and pointed ears of quick preystrain after every rustling blade of grass. [End Page 274]

A Crack

Cracks are born inside sturdy things.Inside solid steel bars and cement in their tight embracethere was room for a path to breathe and wander.Forcing light into a long thin line,a crack braces itself and stretches.I divide the...


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pp. 271-276
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