Two Hands

  • onJanuary 5, 2017
  • Vol.34 Winter 2016
  • byShin Dalja


Thus you came.

Crossing deserts, then deserts again,
crossing deserts again, then deserts again,
sand storms demolishing my body, blazing sunlight demolishing my bones,
my feet frayed to tatters, my pace a dragging of bare feet through flames,
night falls then until morning comes again
with a thirst ready to suck out my very life’s blood
dragging on across desert and again desert
my toes already melted away, my whole body held tight in the desert’s jaws
yet telling myself: I must go on,
with that one thought I reached here,
thus I came.

Through primeval forests, the icy snows of the Himalayas,
crossing the sacred peaks of snowy mountains
I must go on, bearing my life, no turning back,
plunging on neck-deep in trackless snows, crossing on blades
of silence already frozen neck-high, on blades of throat-slashing gales,
even pulling out one heart-beat,
or removing one of the vertebrae in my backbone,
holding erect a staggering body black with frostbite,
telling myself: I must go on,
forcing my blood to circulate by one longing alone, I came hither.

All flesh gets torn to shreds and rots,
only two hands meet white
and form in space a Cathedral.*


Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé and Chung Eun-Gwi 


* Rodin’s sculpture of two different right hands uniting is titled The Cathedral.

Author's Profile

Shin Dalja is a member of the National Academy of Arts, and has served as the chair of the Society of Korean Poets. She has received the Republic of Korea’s Eungwan (Silver Crown) Order of Cultural Merit, the Chong Chi-Yong Literature Prize, the Daesan Literary Award, and the Gong Cho Literature Award. Her poetry collection Paper has been translated into Mongolian and Spanish, and Passionate Love into German.