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  • Five Poems by Ha Jaeyoun
  • Ha Jaeyoun
    Translated by Eun-Gwi Chung (bio) and Brother Anthony of Taize (bio)

The World of Paper Dolls

The fact that my dresses get torn several times a dayis rather sad.Once my hair is arranged in curlsI feel more stable.

Today playing person One andplaying person Two came then left.As every day, there will simply be some slightly bad things,some less bad things, and some things to wonder at.

Some days, all I can dois wear an onlooker's expression.On days when my eye make-up is well-doneI feel so good.

On rising from sleepthe table is set again, the dresses are hangingthe bathtub is shining, the fish are dancing.I can choose anything and cook it. [End Page 237]

Once I have bathed, folded my hands, lowered my eyelids,I can fall asleep whenever I want. [End Page 238]


With my eyebrows painted slantingand my lips blood-red,I'm twentyyour Mom died,and you died too, aged nine,I became not the least bit great.There is no personality in this facebeing covered layer after layer.Reducing one's words,a slightly less bad attitude toward the world,it's okay to draw a face on paper,okay for a tree to shave off flesh.But I can't paint coloronto your lips.The black tones that have fallen from yougo floating through the airwhile your one remaining strand of hairkeeps on growing.In those days, did you really say,Hello, or Come along, to me? [End Page 239]

Growing Playgrounds

Setting off on a Ferris wheel journey,going in following the plaits of little girlsholding helium balloons and chattering,I am reborn from the belly-button.

With a "Hey" little fingersseized my wrist.As doors open one by oneI step out onto the air as if waltzing,a journey viewed from a Ferris wheel.

I wonder how many playgrounds have openedbetween the ground and outer space?Suspended from the long legs of the Ferris wheelthat is working even on a Sunday,your wide-open eyes are shining bright.

With a Pop, the balloon emits a fanfarethe girls grow hoarsequickly fling away their ribbons.While the wooden horse's firewords go soaring up,I enter a newly appeared playground.

From the ground to outer space,over several flights of steps. [End Page 240]


Just as things break down without being touched,and then, once touched,end up being even more broken down

Today one city shattered,one house shattered,one family shattered

Nana went inside a box from the stationersand was twinkling there. Twinkle twinkle.The doll Mommy made got tangled hairand could not turn its head.

I did not throw it away. When did the doll,whose name I have forgotten, grow dirty?Until the stationer's Nana danced twinkle twinkleI threw nothing away.

Early in the morning, the newspaper falls with a flop before the doorI know that after sleeping somewherewhen morning comes you will slowly stretch.

Today one family shattersand the dolls I madeone by one lose their corners.I think my lips, my ears, my handsare slowly folding up. [End Page 241]

A Circus

Taking the first stepfrom earth to heavenin the gap between one building and another in New York

Height and sounds of wind deleted,an immensely strange breadth.

One note then another from a pipe organ go rising.How long before all these shining light bulbscan be changed, I wonder.

None of themloves angels as I do.

By being wounded, shedding blood,I prove that I am human.Once or twice a day little girls without wingsstarve, chortle then vanish.If I make up and put dresses on all those girlswill they receive blessings amidst resounding hymns?

In the gap between one building and another in New YorkI am completedat the moment of my first step.

Heaven's light is turned on...


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pp. 237-242
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