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Poetry

Ligature Marks

By Lee Hyemi
Translated from Korean by Soje
South Korean poet Lee Hyemi addresses the stark contradictions of love.
A woman's mouth, chin, and neck
Photo by Pan Yunbo on Unsplash

    At the peak of beauty could tragedy strike. Today I left the lunar halo and focused on the blizzard not yet spent this morning. The interplay of night and day. Deception and falsity. Growing kindest to the hand that choked me with care. I lay prone on the edge of night and wished to become a mild voice. I wished to lean toward the warble of the innocuous instant. Toward the vision of my walking away. Toward the neat cross section of my back. But now is the time to become distinct by tracing the pattern of dizzying deceit. A searing hand from yesterday can gather up heavy snow. We spoke of infinity while pressing on each other’s vital points which were like shrieks in circulation. Like sclerae swelling with sorrow. Like horizons growing continuously close then forever far. I could wrap our brightest dreams around my neck then streak through the night sky. And so the entrusted winter could shine brightly on the filth of who clings.


“삭흔” © Lee Hyemi. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2022 by Soje. All rights reserved.

English Korean

    At the peak of beauty could tragedy strike. Today I left the lunar halo and focused on the blizzard not yet spent this morning. The interplay of night and day. Deception and falsity. Growing kindest to the hand that choked me with care. I lay prone on the edge of night and wished to become a mild voice. I wished to lean toward the warble of the innocuous instant. Toward the vision of my walking away. Toward the neat cross section of my back. But now is the time to become distinct by tracing the pattern of dizzying deceit. A searing hand from yesterday can gather up heavy snow. We spoke of infinity while pressing on each other’s vital points which were like shrieks in circulation. Like sclerae swelling with sorrow. Like horizons growing continuously close then forever far. I could wrap our brightest dreams around my neck then streak through the night sky. And so the entrusted winter could shine brightly on the filth of who clings.


“삭흔” © Lee Hyemi. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2022 by Soje. All rights reserved.

삭흔

    가장 아름다울 때 가장 슬픈 일이 생길 수도 있다. 오늘은 달무리를 떠나왔고 아침에 못다 쓴 눈보라에 집중했다. 교차하던 밤과 낮. 기만과 거짓. 목을 다정하게 조여오던 손에게 더없이 친절해지던. 밤의 가장자리로 엎드리며 나는 순한 목소리가 되고 싶었다. 무해한 찰나의 지저귐으로 기울어가고 싶었다. 돌아서서 걷던 뒷모습으로. 단정한 등의 단면으로. 그러나 지금은 어지러운 거짓의 무늬를 더듬으며 분명해지는 시간. 어제의 뜨거웠던 손이 폭설을 모아 올 수도 있다. 서로의 급소를 짓누르며 무한을 말하였고 그건 순환하는 비명들 같았지. 슬픔으로 부풀어가는 눈의 흰자위처럼. 계속해서 가까워지다 영영 멀어지는 수평선들처럼. 가장 빛나는 꿈을 목에 두르고 밤하늘로 쏟아질 수도 있다. 그리하여 맡아두었던 겨울이 매달린 이의 더러움을 환하게 비출 수도 있다.

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