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Poetry

My Pond, My Sanitarium

Translated from Korean

When I remove my clothes in the bathroom,
there's something else I'd like to remove.
I feel within myself
an old crepe myrtle dreaming of transmigration,
of changing its body into another life.

Like bent bodies entering the tub
curved crepe myrtles,
three hundred years old,
stand along the edge of the pond.

When the red flowers of August glow
like charcoal exposed to the wind,
growing brighter near me,
I'd like to plunge naked into that tub of flowers
and emerge with a new life.
Wearing the petals like sparks of fire on my head,
I'll laugh. If friends visit from Seoul,
I'll tell them it's a bruised man who dresses
the world, and when they leave
I'll call them back
to lay these flowers of strong medicine
on their eyes.

English

When I remove my clothes in the bathroom,
there's something else I'd like to remove.
I feel within myself
an old crepe myrtle dreaming of transmigration,
of changing its body into another life.

Like bent bodies entering the tub
curved crepe myrtles,
three hundred years old,
stand along the edge of the pond.

When the red flowers of August glow
like charcoal exposed to the wind,
growing brighter near me,
I'd like to plunge naked into that tub of flowers
and emerge with a new life.
Wearing the petals like sparks of fire on my head,
I'll laugh. If friends visit from Seoul,
I'll tell them it's a bruised man who dresses
the world, and when they leave
I'll call them back
to lay these flowers of strong medicine
on their eyes.