- onMarch 22, 2018
- Vol.39 Spring 2018
- byKim Haengsook
- Portrait of an Echo
I heard there is a chair in heaven. I heard there is a left and a right. Sometimes what I think she means is that if something exists in heaven that also exists in this world it must be good,
and then sometimes I think that what she means is that if something exists in this world also exists in heaven it must be bad. Oh moonlight, you are like an echo. The tail blurs . . . trembles . . . light and echoes. At first I think moonlight is good for packaging secrets,
and then I think moonlight is good for unwrapping secrets. Moonlight is a good light to softly kneel down in. Moonlight is a good light to love in. And, also, moonlight is a good light to die in.
Tonight the world is also filled with light good enough for the wings of an angel to get soaked with and, really, it feels like there is no outside to this world. I said there are trains drawing curves underground the city and I said in the train there are long chairs. I told her the story about the people who sit on the long chairs and the whites of their eyes that disappear as if they are dead like people in heaven.
Blowing warm breath into her snowflake ears, I whispered the story of people who kill each other even in their dreams.
Do you love humanity? I asked. And I waited a long time for the response.
Translated by Jake Levine & Seo Soeun
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).