At the Age of Thirty

  • onJune 19, 2018
  • Vol.40 Summer 2018
  • byKim Haengsook
Poems of Kim Yideum, Kim Haengsook & Kim Min Jeong
Tr. Jake Levine


You need the sun shine. The woman put me in a stroller and
we took a walk around the park. Where is the sun shine? I need
something I can touch and play with.
I looked up at the woman.
The woman also looked up somewhere.

I said Mother.
Child, you are just briefly reminiscing about the past, but the world
has changed a lot
. The woman released her hands from the grip
of the stroller.

Was it just the wheels that turned? . . . The tree I smashed my
car into arched its back. The leaves, the leaves. I think I heard
the leaves’ shrill cackling. Ah, ah, ah. What is this place that I am
crammed into?

Love, what’s the matter? Disheveled, my love asks. My head is
lodged in the steering wheel. Where was I headed to? Wherever
it was, I couldn’t stop.
I slowly look up at my love.

My love also looks up somewhere. No matter who does it,
anyone looking for an answer looks like an infant. Or was it
really just the wheels that were turning?

I thought, Mother. To change directions, first I’ve got to back up.
Slowly I place my hands on the steering wheel. I look back.
(p. 76)



Translated by Jake Levine


Time, Please Stop © Cho Jang Eun


Author's Profile

Kim Haengsook made her debut as a poet in 1999. She has authored the poetry collections Adolescence, The Goodbye Ability, The Meaning of Others, and A Portrait of an Echo. She has received the Nojak Literary Prize, Jeon Bonggeon Literary Award, and Midang Literary Award. She is a professor of Korean literature at Kangnam University and has served as a contributing editor for the journal, World Literature. Her poetry has appeared in English in Poems of Kim Yideum, Kim Haengsook & Kim Min Jeong (Vagabond Press, 2017).