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  • Five Poems by Kim Joong-Il
  • Kim Joong-Il
    Translated by Eun-Gwi Chung (bio) and Brother Anthony of Taize (bio)

A Story of Your Feet That Came Floating All the Way Down Your Body

If the soles of our feet are touching at midnight,in the next life we will be reborn exchanged with each other.

If I am sitting opposite youas we extend toward each otherlegs full of wounds like old oarsand tread on each other's weary solesit feels like walking on warm water.It feels as if we are sinking deepinto roughly swaying, shaking water.

At the end of my feet you rock like a shadow on water. Your feet, that had set off from the top of your head without a single rain-stained nautical chart flowed down, riding along on tears, sweeping over the crest of your dancing shoulders, past your elbows projecting like rocks and your small wrists, reaching your fingertips where ten small fingernails float like an archipelago, drawn into your breasts leaping like dolphins and the whirlpool-navel, then dropping deep into your groin, [End Page 105] rising over your soaring knees purring like a tiny kitten, then when night falls floating down to the ankles' distant harbor and dropping anchor.

Plunging the bright window deep into the night like an anchor,your two feetare floating side by side tied to the window,your body hanging like a corpulent sail.

To take a rest from the journey, your two feetare a pair of shoesthat his lordship tonight has removed before sleep.At dawn the blistered feet's night, awakened from sleep,finds and slips on your two feet that you had removed, then sets off.

While you sleep tonight once again your bare feetare on their way to the sky. [End Page 106] Today you are rainy weather.Boarding you, who are so like a hole-pierced skiff,I go rowing on with cast-off gloom like bare feet.

Your shoulders are about two spans of my hand across,so when your shoulders rock and weepI have to grip your shoulders like a steering wheel,drift like a boat exposed to a downpour.When I open my eyes, you are inside out like a shoe shaken off by a drunken god.As soon as dawn breaks, the god in the windwill surely crumple you up, slip you on and go away.

If I idly stroke your haira sound arises of wind treading on leavesand the place where a bird perched all night long before departingwill obviously turn into a tingling joint.Trees will flex that jointthen finally grasp the airthen fingernails will once again fall offand in their place crape myrtle will form.

In any case here, now,we are in a wood which has neither summer nor name.How many expirations will I have to crumple upto make a body like yours?In a sudden silence plannedby neither owl nor lynx nor cricketthe trees all stared in one directionwhile the air exhaled in the city briefly [End Page 107] coming flying from all sides combined with raindropsis you hitherto.The moment of reaction, combining then reboundingis you henceforth.

Now you are dispersing again like foginto the misty airso remember the people who appeared in the fog.The leaves dangling from the eyes of treesare tears rusting all summer long.The trees with empty eye sockets known as air always observe you.The trees that are pouring out rusty tears all togetherfrom yesterday's eyes and today's eyes and tomorrow's eyescommunicate in the language of trees.

Do not expect yesterday's and today'sand tomorrow's and your and my unhappiness to become equal.But until at least they become equalfollowing this present moment's weatheras a deep forest vibrant with the smell of icecome pouring down like rain. [End Page 108]

The Shadow of a Fish—On My Father...


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pp. 105-112
Launched on MUSE
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