Venus Pudica*

  • onSeptember 26, 2017
  • Vol.37 Autumn 2017
  • byPark YeonJoon
Venus Pudica


Long, long, long ago
(It feels like—anything called three times arrives in front of me)

Darkness split in half:
The shape of my seven-year-old genitals
Precise and beautiful half moons leaning on both sides
And nobody tried to enter it
Because it was a beautiful crevice

Holding a pencil in my mouth and imitating smoking
I was slapped in the back with a loud smack
And almost died with a pencil stuck in the throat—many times
Dead worms sprang out of surviving pencil tips
Streamed like smoke, then became embedded
That’s how I learned letters

Dream, love, and hope are the phonetic characters I memorized
Humidity, guilt, narrowly reclaimed voice, and thin poetry
are the character of time I learned

From time to time, I would be wrapped in a big piece of bojagi1 and abandoned
I was easily found out
And was rather spunky
(Since I ultimately failed to be abandoned)

One summer on the rooftop, I came to realize a certain emotion:
I saw the long and damp nightclothes left behind by that someone
Fluttering in the wind

When one stretches love to the extremes,
Then cannot bear it anymore
One is pushed out of the earth
Blood surges up then all at once

Later, I thought that a wet dream at the desk is poetry
Then believed that being pushed into the shadows while holding his face
Is love

But nothing was ever sadder
Than the fluttering nightclothes that I saw on the roof at seven

And from then on, I became poor—
Decidedly, and in every aspect

Translated by Emily Jungmin Yoon


* Venus Pudica is an artistic term that refers to the sculpture type of a modest Venus, who poses while covering her breasts and genitals with her hands.

1. Bojagi is a traditional Korean wrapping cloth.

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.