Selected Poetry from The Word Stained the Leaves
- onJune 20, 2018
- Vol.40 Summer 2018
- byRa Heeduk
- Selected Poetry from The Word Stained the Leaves
Tr. Lauren Albin 1994112pp.
Sleeping on a Nail
Under that roof the swallow’s nest which was also too small
was full to the brim with only the chicks that were born
and the mother covered the nest with her wing while barely managing to fall asleep
Who stuck it right in the side? One nail
If not that nail
then where did the father pass his time at night?
My burning eyes were raised toward
the swallow perched on the nail above who spends all night dozing
The Jongam-dong bus station, the wind fans the dust
as a man waits with three children
after the passing of many buses
In her tiredness an exhausted woman ascended, and because of her paleness
how much more did the half-split moonlight pale?
The children ran catching their mother’s hem
and a man who stood in the same spot gazing at the thin
moonbeam, I think I know what’s in his heart tonight.
The soiled green walnut felt inside the pocket of unemployment
does not easily break
and instead of a reasonable home
the father that endures living on one nail,
the wind still seeming to raise the dust in the streets
Even though the hazy moonlight on the path they took as they left
managed to make a silhouette of the family members holding hands
the alley was too narrow to do so
The shadow of the father always one step behind
that teetering reminiscent of
the single nail, the sleep on it
Mourning Moll Magee
She who emerges from the salt mines with a blackened face
to trudge back home,
inside the worn body the suckled breast empty of milk
she who carelessly relaxes into sleep with her breast bitten
by the baby, the next day’s dawn
she who is embracing the child that suffocated to death
and is beaten, Moll Magee Moll Magee
the children followed her as they pelted her with stones.
Since I wondered if it was I that threw the stones
that poetry of Yeats, no the woman
would not leave my mind for a long time.
Now having spent all of my day plowing the field
on my return home I can suddenly see myself being beaten like that.
I can see the baby sobbing at the bottom of the breast.
Words turn to stone
the expression in its eye turns to stone
and our clasped hands turn to stone too.
it falls in front of my face, a shattered knee
the blood streaming from Moll Magee's wound
that still won’t end
how many times a day must I witness this,
clean the flowing blood while still, still
having to run toward the field
in the field the many stones that must be planted this way.
Based on the poem “The Ballad of Moll Magee” by William Butler Yeats.