Memories of Giving Birth to a Daughter-in p’ansori narrative
- onAugust 3, 2016
- Vol.32 Summer 2016
- byKim Hyesoon
I open a mirror and enter,
mother is inside a mirror, sitting.
I open a mirror and enter again,
grandmother is inside a mirror, sitting.
I push aside this grandmother mirror and step over a doorsill,
great grandmother is inside a mirror, laughing.
I place my head inside great grandmother’s laughing lips,
great-great grandmother, younger than me
turns around inside a mirror, sitting.
I open this mirror and enter,
All the ancestral mothers are sitting
inside a darkening mirror,
and these mothers mutter and call in my direction,
Their mouths pucker, crying for milk,
but my breasts have no milk, and someone
keeps pumping wind into
My stomach grows bigger than a balloon,
blows here and there above the sea.
It is so wide, wide inside the mirror
that I can’t even catch one blade of straw,
and sometimes lightning passes through my body.
Every time I dive into the sea
a row of mothers’ shoes dissolve
on the sea’s bottom.
A bolt of lightning!
Power’s off! A blackout!
Suddenly, all the mirrors shatter in front of me,
and one mother is vomited out.
People in white, wearing gloves
collect the bits of mirror and hold up a small mother
smeared in blood with eyes still shut—
mother of all my mothers—
and say, “It’s a ten-fingered princess!”
Translated by Don Mee Choi