The Apprentice’s Dream

  • onMarch 21, 2018
  • Vol.39 Spring 2018
  • byPark Nohae
The Dawn of Labor

A long night at the factory
Fatigue creeps over the shoulders
like a cold front

Drrr drrr drrr
Riding the sewing machine, the dream-like sewing machine
the frozen hands of the apprentice
who bears the night on caffeine pills
cuts the rose-colored dream
snips the given-up dreams
hauls the bleeding leather onto the machine
over and over

Still an apprentice
she wants to tame the machine
ride it
with the cool face of a general
and make warm clothes
that wrap her frozen self
and patch up life’s tears

Still an apprentice
goosebumps tremble all over her
she scissors and hammers and irons.
The apprentice’s dream
to stitch together
the world’s fragments into one
and with it she runs blind
the wind-whipped factory streets and
upon the skinny apprentice’s gestures
and her pale forehead
the dawn stars shine

Translated by Anton Hur

Author's Profile

Park Nohae is a poet, photographer, and revolutionary. His first poetry collection, The Dawn of Labor (1984), sold nearly a million copies despite being banned. He formed the South Korean Socialist Workers’ Alliance in 1989. He was arrested in 1991 and imprisoned for seven and a half years, during which time he published the essay collection Only A Person Is Hope (1997). He published his third poetry collection, So You Must Not Disappear, in 2010. He has held photo exhibitions in South Korea since 2010.