- Extinction, and: I Am, and: Day after Day We, and: When You Were a Boy
Like Sunday going to the zoo riding in a red car,
Like a bird sitting on a car horn, The sky is a blue partition concealing the mystery of what is beyond it.
The song will soon be blown away. A dead-end alley where men who were quick vanished along with those who lagged. Wearing the landscape’s blurred wings,
August’s trees growing their green tumors. Death long as a snake winding round me. Across the road, like a piano with a broken leg, the world is starting to tilt.
Darkness. The light on windowpanes trembles like lemons.
I have never once told the truth. Now night has come, when those things are written down, filling empty books. [End Page 10]
Overcooked spinach, a wet lollipop thrown away, I am a house rolled by a tapeworm, broken scissors, a gas station selling fake gas, fish scales scattered across a chopping board, a compass that never stops spinning, I am a thief who steals rotten fruits, sleep that is long in coming, a wet hand thrust into a flour sack, the broken crutch of a one-legged man, the mouth of a yellow balloon, a day when lips touched, so swollen it split
day after day we
After filling the pockets of our white shirts with cherries, we tumbled down every day.
The green tomato thrown high in the air at five in the afternoon ripens and turns red as it comes down.
We have been thinking for far too long. In order to tell our lies we shake the darkness inside ebony boxes with missing keys.
Our four seasons, cut segments of a tart orange. Puffing long on pipes of bursting scent, day after day we [End Page 11]
when you were a boy
You liked a kidnapped princess, a little window, and a magic top. You liked the fake names of various colors, apple vinegar, and rafts that shattered in songs that were just the least bit sad. Running down wooden stairs with your eyes closed. How beautiful the creaking sound.
You hated Demon King Daimao, oil wars, and excuses. The Ice Planet shivered on the back of your yellow wool blanket. Your old coins went pouring into the broken fountain with a clinking sound.
When you were a boy, when I longed to taste the plums you gathered, when no bosom beneath the black-spotted dress was as heavy as stone.
When a girl loved a girl, when a boy loved a boy, when I caught a strange flame
between thumb and forefinger, when I burnt out the large blanks in a faded test paper, when I wanted to be the painter of a red house, when I wore fiery underwear on the cold skin of war and passing summer. [End Page 12]
Chung Eun-Gwi was born in 1969 in Kyungju, Korea. She received her doctorate from the Poetics Program at the University at Buffalo (SUNY), and is now an associate professor in the Department of English Literature at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, in Seoul. Among her translated works is the volume Ah! Mouthless Things by Lee Seong-bok. She received a Daesan Foundation Translation Grant for Korean literature and a translation grant from the Korea Literature Translation Institute (KLTI). She has participated in many KLTI projects.
Brother Anthony of Taizé has published more than thirty volumes of translations of Korean poetry. Recently, he published ten volumes of work by Ko Un, along with volumes by Lee Si-Young and Kim Soo-bok. Born in Cornwall in 1942, he has lived in Korea since 1980 and was naturalized as a Korean citizen in 1994. Brother Anthony has received the Republic of Korea Literary Award (Translation), the Daesan Award for Translation, the Korea PEN Translation Prize, and the Ok-gwan (Jade Crown) Order of Merit for Culture from the Korean government. He is also emeritus professor of English at Sogang University and Chair of the...