Two Poems

  • onSeptember 25, 2017
  • Vol.37 Autumn 2017
  • byLee Young Ju


On a winter night I want to enter the inside from the outside. Into the inside from the outside. When I try to enter the inside where there is nobody, the door handle, cold as a knife, breaks off. If there were still a handle, at least I could try turning it; pushing the belly button; turning my gaze geometrically. There are damp smells that Mother has strewn about on the floor. There are all these mushrooms I want to call Sister, but when I awake from sleep, Mother is cutting their heads off with a fruit knife. Where should I attach this handle? You are standing underground. As the inside of my body darkens, a strange vibration inside weeps. I want to call the rotting wet inside Sister. You place the handle on your heart, which grows like a mushroom. You open it and look inside. The mushrooms, growing upside down, awaken and they cut off Mother’s head. When you try to enter the inside from the outside; when you can’t find the handle that you left outside, because it is too dark; when the inside where there is nobody starts turning inside out in the shape of mushroom; you start calling apartment 202’s frosted window Sister.




The Evening We Eat Sugar

When we walked along the riverbank, we were neither woman nor man. By evening, our pockets became full of sugar. By the time we were born, the storms near our navels had disappeared, but we didn’t forget them. Lightly blowing air into each other’s ears, as though we were some white and sweet species, we giggled.

Winds gathered at the top of the tall children’s heads. Their faces eroded away as their heads tilted in the direction of the sedimentary level where the grown-ups passed by. There was no visibility by the riverbank because of the evening clouds falling upon us. We wielded our sticks to sketch out our screams, and the screams survived the harsh winds to become this cold season.

All day long, we chewed on our lips outside the school gate. With the tips of our tongues, we slowly dissolved each other’s lips made of sugar, eventually devouring them. As we pressed down upon each other’s suddenly elongated throats, while the sugar granules were sprinkling, the permutations of this extinct DNA continued to recombine inside our bodies.

If there is any sugar left, we still are neither woman nor man. By evening, we plaster letters of apology all over the windows. Heading home after school, our mouths, filled with slithering red tongues, get wider and wider. Scraping at each other’s continuously elongating throats, we be-come the species that is yearning to become sweet.

Floating foam on the river: the storm is coming.


Translated by Ji yoon Lee

Author's Profile

Lee Young Ju has published the poetry collections The 108th Man, Cold Candy, and Sister. Her poetry weaves freely between reality and fantasy, past and present, and the inside and outside.