The Position of the Neck

  • onMarch 22, 2018
  • Vol.39 Spring 2018
  • byKim Haengsook
The Meaning of Others



The Position of the Neck


Isn’t it odd? Also, the position of the head.

I crook my neck to say hello. I bend my neck all the way back and look up at the night sky. Right after greeting you, if the neck immediately turns to the ceiling or night sky, it is a kind of neck that reveals only a single line of movement. And this means, once again, that my heart helped make up my mind to track the traces of my neck. Track the traces like rushing to pick up and put on clothes because of shame.

To avoid your eyes, which direction must the neck avoid and which direction must the neck stop in again? The night sky, isn’t it confusing? Also, the shape of the neck.

Am I not vague? About you.

A cough popped out of my neck. Suddenly I remembered the writing of some epicure that said, I want to have the longest throat in the world. Is the speed of the sinking of the ecstasy that food gives as slow as the length of the neck? Or does the length thinly expand the pain of the departing landscape? Or are we just in the middle of carefully whittling down the white bones of happiness until they finally fall apart? Suddenly, here, everything disappears.

It’s no use—trying to adjust the length of the neck. Trying to make the neck disappear into a coat. It’s still cold and isn’t it still impossible—trying to hide the large frame of the body?

Even so, isn’t there something I want to accomplish—accomplish by moving my neck? Like moving my legs to leave you. Like moving my legs having found you once again.


Translated by Jake Levine & Seo Soeun

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).