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POETRY

Father Who Became a Snake

  • onSeptember 26, 2017
  • Vol.37 Autumn 2017
  • byPark YeonJoon
Father Called Me Sister-in-Law
2012

I hung my father on the hospital and walked out
My face itches

Father, red blood droplets smeared on his lips,
Was sleeping on the floor as if seeping into it
When he was transferred, dragged away like a dog,
Without disobeying
He looked at me momentarily
And called out, Hey, cheoje1
Like a girl getting married with rouged cheeks, he looked lovely
Innocent, even

Aimlessly wandering above my father’s face the color of red bean porridge,
I put on something like a smile, with a little grimace
And lifted my head to watch the snake passing across the ceiling

A damp, listless, and yawning snake

Slow—that is just how I am,
Anything that is long, beautiful and damp like me
Is bound to be slow
So child, until I am done passing
Until darkness is done moving over the hill

Do this for me—close your eyes
Just for a moment,
Close your eyes, and pray

 

 

Translated by Emily Jungmin Yoon


1. Cheoje is the title for the younger sister of one’s wife.

Author's Profile

Park YeonJoon won the JoongAng New Writer’s Award in 2004 with the poem “Give Me Ice.” She has published the poetry collections The Scream of Eyelashes, Father Called Me Sister-in-Law, and Venus Pudica, and the essay collection Disturbance.