Higher than the Heart & Other Poems [+ Web Exclusive]
- onSeptember 4, 2018
- Vol.41 Autumn 2018
- byShin Cheolgyu
Higher than the Heart
I was soaking my body in the tub when the electricity went out.
Outside, it rains and
rustedsadnesses float to the surface.
A terrified child runs through a dark hallway.
Is there anyone outside?
The empty bathroom echoes with my voice, which wanders a long while and then stops.
The heart beats ceaselessly to send the blood to a place higher than itself.
Gravity drags the blood down and
the heart, with a force greater than gravity, sends the blood flowing to every part of the body.
The blood that arrives at the tips of my toes, what does it think about on the way back?
I look at my toes. They are like a coastline.
When we die, do the heart and soul stop at the same time?
The brain will clamor for blood,
the oxygen-deprived lungs will sink, little by little,
and the blood circulating in the body will lose its momentum when the heart stops, and hesitate
unable to move forward or turn back
like lips becoming parched because they couldn’t find the words to speak.
Then will my soul stop, somewhere in my body?
When the water rises to heart-height, there’s no one who isn’t anxious.
When you walk into deep water,
you unconsciously raise your hands above your head.
The uncollapsable collapsed and the unsinkable sank.
The faces of my dreams melted down like dough.
Like not-quite-erased graffiti, they were blurry and smudged.
A dream someone crumpled.
A dream someone trampled.
Sometimes certain memories are engraved on the heart.
With every heartbeat, they run down the veins, bleeding through the body.
I was scared and lonely so I cried in the water.
Because I was scared, I was lonely, and
because I was lonely, I was scared.
A cat is scratching the bathroom door with its front paws.
The electricity comes back and the lights turn on.
The blurry ceiling hanging with droplets comes into view and
dense vapors rise between the dark and light.
Losing bits of each other,
stealing bits of each other.
My heart, now a chunk of lead, presses my whole body down.
From Munhak dongne no. 93 (2017 Winter)
The same numbers are standing side by side.
The sunrays come through the window and shine in diagonally.
The peach fuzz on your left cheek gently dances
and your right cheek is sharpened by the shade.
I come and sit a little closer toward the sun.
What are you going to do when the first snow falls?
Not sure if this is the whispering of love or a declaration of goodbye, my heart sinks
down a stretch or so.
The measuring weight in my body gets heavier.
My feelings that flowed in waves split into particles and scatter.
Indoors, the music shimmers up like a heat haze.
If you turn on music in a silent room, does the room become that much heavier?
Is there a weight to sound?
The times that have passed, where are they stacked up?
Did you know? The leaves turn colors in the tropics too. They turn colors in the dry season,
not because of the cold, but because the air is dry.
The trees drop their leaves to trap the water seeped in its body.
The sun, caught between two trees.
The thorned shackles made by the branches.
The pure white vertigo of the hand that let the cup slip.
Smoke rises from the hand.
In the far future we won’t be able to recognize each other.
Like the way you touch the ghosts in the mirror with the palm of your hand.
The pupils crowding into the mirror, terrifying.
Faces with lips erased.
The knife’s tip is sharp because it has something to stab.
A dulled feeling collapses with nothing to stab at.
A butterfly is sitting on your lips, and
it flies away when I reach out to catch it.
One by one, I brush off the oxidized feelings.
Like a hollowed out tree, I lower my head and look at the ground.
A bird made of yarn does not sing.
From Axt no.15, 2017. 11/12
Those Shoes That Day - Whose Were They?
When you shave, some feelings get shaved off.
I look in the mirror and stroke my chin.
My lips are metallic-cold.
The soft season has gone.
A funeral in a basement —
heat flows out, along with light.
The fluorescent light comes down like a veil and tints
the faces yellow.
The shadows cast on the wall undulate, blurry.
Some laugh like a fallen leaf and
some shiver like a brittle branch.
With our faces a mix of laughing and crying, we talk and hand each other glasses of alcohol.
From the look on the face of the person sitting in front of me, I read the look on mine.
Sometimes, to clear our cracked voices,
we close our mouths.
Talk had become a thin film, and it was separating us from each other.
As soon as I lower my face, my hair comes down, covers my face.
Someone left wearing the wrong shoes, but the owner of those shoes can’t be found.
He might have confused the indoor slippers for his shoes and maybe he’ll realize it suddenly, in a taxi.
A strange current flows in the shoes.
Schemes, poking out when a foot is pushed inside.
A fallen leaf tumbles.
A light leaf.
The heavy leaves are stuck on the ground.
Holding moisture, they are stuck flat on the ground.