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  • A Mathematician’s Morning, and: Therefore, and: Okinawa, Tunisia, Francis Jammes, and: Battleground, and: Metaphor’s Mass, and: Tamam Negara
  • Five Poems by Kim So-yeon
    Translated by Brother Anthony (bio) and Chung Eun-Gwi (bio)

A Mathematician’s Morning

I’ll just die for a moment,like a triangle.

I scrutinize the quiet shadows of motionless things.The birdcage begins to move, smiling brightly.

I think about how I cannot see the person I am embracingas I hug even more tightly the person I am embracing.

This is imagining memories.It’s seeing an ant that has crawled inside my eyeball.Whether it be winter turning into skin or the Southern Cross over    southern seas.

I’ll just die for a moment,like a tidy line.

The mathematician closes his eyes.He resolves to count the breaths of one he cannot see. [End Page 243]

He resolves to calculate the structure of binomial oppositionbetween breathing in and breathing out.

Sounds of breathing, sounds of beating, sounds of pulsinglinger heedless round the mathematician’s ear.I think about the humble joys nestling in a humble body.

I have long lived forgetful of such things as tears, such things as    sighs.Even though I am not living well.

I’ll just die for a moment.As I think of the perfect figure for π which has never been    witnessed anywhere

a person’s breathingbrushes across the mathematician’s eyelashes.I imagine the length of a straight line that will one day be bent into    a curve. [End Page 244]


I am okay,therefore sorrow dries up.

I alone am here to hearthe words I speak.I say things like: Ah, good,that I alone hear.

It’s been a long time since tomorrow arrived outside the door.I pretend to ignore tomorrow’s smell,like a dog sitting in the shade with its long tongue lolling all day    long.

Is this okay? With no one I wonder about,with no concern about tomorrow’s weather,

I watched as the sandcastle I had built all afternoonwas slowly demolished by the wavesand listenedto a bent-backed old man playing the accordion.

I saw a little boy all alone say ‘Papillion’to a butterfly as it sat on the lawn awaiting death

It seems that the childhood “I”keeps committing sins in my dreams.Every morning as I wakea black sympathy tosses my body and passes through the sinsthe way wind passes through laundry,drying up sorrow. [End Page 245]

I prefer not to hear people asking if I am okay.Because that awakens sorrow.Because sorrow will bring me back to life again.

When I bite into a black, ripe plum,when I burn my wrist and a sweet discharge flows down,

I say: ah, delicious,and I alone hear. [End Page 246]

Okinawa, Tunisia, Francis Jammes

The limit we can reach,things this far, are so banallike hermit crabs, like hermit crabs

Each of uslike an observatory standing at a spot with a good viewis tall and lonely,but that’s all

We walked, but looking back there were no footprints.Did we crawl? Like hermit crabs, likehermit crabs?


I will not be discreet.Just like a flower I will raise objections with fragrance.Interpreting this as a scream or silenceI will leave as the dictator’s task.

You, this remote runway that is not you, I running, you supporting,    I flying up, you applauding, we will move apart but we will    meet in one place and every time, in the place where we met, at    that spot where we leaned shoulder to shoulder pretending to    embrace, shoulder to shoulder,“A good consolation is a love delightful as a young strawberry on    the edge of an old torrent.”*We once saw a hermit crab leaving its home, we saw it moving,    throwing away one arm, one leg, then we saw a branch of    jasmine falling, we saw the hermit crab place the jasmine    blossom on its back then go on walking. [End Page 247]

This being the only placefor...


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