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POETRY

Spuds

  • onAugust 3, 2016
  • Vol.32 Summer 2016
  • byMoon Chung-hee
1988

 

In a wide, empty potato field
sat a woman the size of a clay pot.
Hungry from digging potatoes
she sat atop the potato pile
roasting potatoes to eat alone.
From far off a man, like a water deer
bounded over.
I’m chased, I’m chased, hide me, he said.

Potato in hand, hurriedly
the woman gestured below.
The water deer went inside her skirt.
The two became a large clay pot.

Gun in hand a soldier ran over.
Potato in hand, hurriedly
the woman gestured far off.
The soldier disappeared to a far off place
and the woman still seated wobbled.
The mountain tottered.
The potato was stuffed into her mouth.
The potato field surged with flame.

Day by day the woman grew fatter.
As big as a manure heap.
As big as a house.
Finally, she bore potatoes.
Bore one after another for a thousand years.
Our Earth filled with potatoes.
The potatoes, looking alike, thought each other funny
and laughed every day.

What was the soldier, gun in hand, where did he go?
The potatoes wondered sometimes.

 

Translated by Sophie Bowman

Author's Profile

Moon Chung-hee is a poet and Endowed Chair Professor at Dongguk University. She has won prestigious awards such as the Sowol Poetry Award, the Chong Chi-Yong Literature Prize, the Mogwol Literature Prize, and Sweden’s Cikada Prize. She has participated in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. English editions of her books include WindflowerWoman on the Terrace, and I Must Be the Wind.