Poetry From the April 2014 issue: Writing from South Korea
Once Maternal Grandmother set off, a basin of injeolmi rice-cakes on her head,
to sell in this neighborhood and that,
I would pull out scraps of glass, bottle tops, a broken pocketknife,
medicine bottles, a handle-less fruit knife, burst beanbags,
all hidden on the sunny side of the old wattle fence behind the privy,
and play with them.
Bored of even that after half a day,
I would chase the innocent chickens from the house behind,
then end up being scolded by my youngest aunt
for scuffling my shoes along.
I would eat, blowing hoo hoo, a bowl of sujaebi dough flakes soup, more kimchi than dough,
mingled with tears and snot.
Humming a line or two of “Yellow Shirt” that I’d learned from the radio,
I would collapse on the warm floor and sleep like a cat.
Then seeing the door was dim, unsure if it was morning or evening,
frightened, with one cheek bright red, I would cry out
and my aunt putting wood on the fire would pretend it was morning.
When Grandmother came home at sunset,
if her business had been good, I would be so disappointed.
I would lick my fingertips and dip them again and again
into the fine bean-powder remaining at the bottom of the basin
until my fingers pruned.
Ah, those injeolmi Grandmother
used to stuff into my mouth that gaped
with longing for Mother,
passing Yongsan Market, I meet them again, laid out on a shabby stall.
I meet Grandmother, huddled dozing.
인절미 © Kim Sa-in. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2014 by Brother Anthony of Taizé and Susan Hwang. All rights reserved.
외할머니 떡함지 이고
이 동네 저 동네로 팔러 가시면
나는 잿간 뒤 헌 바자 양지 쪽에 숨겨둔
유릿조각 병뚜껑 부러진 주머니칼 쌍화탕병 손잡이빠진 과도 터진 오자미 꺼내놓고
한나절이 지나면 그도 심심해
뒷집 암탉이나 애꿎게 쫓다가
신발을 직직 끈다고
막내 이모한테 그예 날벼락을 맞고
김치가 더 많은 수제비 한 사발
눈물 콧물 섞어서 후후 먹었다
스피커에서 따라 배운 '노란 샤쓰' 한 구절을 혼자 흥얼거리다
아랫목에 엎어져 고양이잠을 자고 나면
아침인지 저녁인지 문만 부예
빨개진 한쪽 볼로 무서워 소리치면
군불 때던 이모는 아침이라고 놀리곤 했다
저물어 할머니 돌아오시면
잘 팔린 날은 어찌나 서운턴지
함지에 묻어 남은 콩고물
손가락 끝 쪼글토록
침을 발라 찍어먹고 또 찍어먹고
아아 엄마가 보고 싶어 비어지는 내 입에
쓴 듯 단 듯 물려주던
외할머니 그 인절미
용산시장 지나다가 초라한 좌판 위에서 만나네
웅크려 졸고 있는 외할머니 만나네
Kim Sa-inKim Sa-in
Kim Sa-in was born in Boeun, North Chungcheon Province, in 1955. He has published two collections of poetry, Night Letters (bame sseuneun pyeonji, 1987) and Liking in Silence (gamanhi joahaneun, 2006), four collections of criticism, including A Deep Reading of the Novels of Park Sang-Ryung (2001), and a book of essays, A Warm Bowl of Rice (2006). Following time in prison in the early 1980s he began writing poetry and co-founded the magazine Poetry and Economy. Among his awards are the Sin Dong-Yeop Grant for Writing (1987), the Modern Literature Prize for poetry (2005), and the Daesan Literature Award for poetry (2006). He teaches creative writing at Dongdeok Women's University, and hosts broadcast programs devoted to poetry and spirituality. In late 2010 he participated in the University of Iowa's International Writing Program.
Translated from KoreanKorean by Brother Anthony of TaizéBrother Anthony of Taizé and by Susan HwangSusan Hwang
Brother Anthony of Taizé was born in England in 1942 and has been living in Korea since 1980. He taught English literature at Sogang University, Seoul, for many years and is now an emeritus professor there, as well as a chair-professor at Dankook University. He has published more than thirty volumes of English translations of modern Korean poetry, including eight volumes by Ko Un. His Korean name is An Sonjae.
Susan Hwang is a doctoral student studying modern Korean literature at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She received an MA at Columbia University and is presently writing her dissertation on the history of literary criticism in South Korea since the mid-1960s, with a focus on the changing relationship between dissident politics and literary production.
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