That Dog

  • onDecember 2, 2019
  • Vol.46 Winter 2019
  • byYu Gyeyoung
Tr. Hedgie Choi


Because that dog could be alive, just maybe
I stop every time I encounter a dog on the street
I think it looked like that I think it was about this big I think it was brown I think it
was spotted I stand there
and think about that dog I just can’t remember.



I was nine then, so that dog is probably dead

I kept crying
That dog who kept trying to crawl on my lap whose body left behind a trace of warmth
who was desperate
who did not want to be left alone who had no name and wanted a name
who knew nothing who knew nothing and wagged its tail
was strange and scary to me

The soft and weak shouldn’t be with the soft and weak
someone told me later
but I didn’t want to know anything smart like that

Because that dog could be alive, just maybe
I dampened with sweat every time I came across a dog on the street
What that dog looked like, I just couldn’t remember
but I could still feel the texture of that tongue licking my fingers like crazy

The tongues of the random dogs I came across were blooming red
and licking the black noses on the street shiny and clean

Twenty years later I got another dog
I no longer shuddered thinking that dog was alive, just maybe, but

I kept crying
because I thought this dog might die, just maybe
this dog might leave a trace of its body’s warmth on my lap and leave me

might desperately, utterly leave me
might return to a nameless world because its name was too heavy
might recognize me might recognize me and so not wag its tail

I heard dogs share the memories of other dogs and believed it

My dad sat the dog down and confessed his sins all night to the dog
Next time, be born as a human, we’ll meet again as humans, live a long, long time

His back, the moment before collapse
looked earnest like the back of a giant dog

But this dog seemed to have no great interest in any of this
Its tail slapped the wood floor, slap, slap
and then it opened its mouth wide in a yawn

Translated by Hedgie Choi

Author's Profile

Yu Gyeyoung studied creative writing at Dongguk University. She debuted in 2010 when Hyundae Munhak journal selected her poems for its Newcomer Recommendations. She has authored the poetry collections The Day of All Things, Now I Can Speak of Pure, and Does This Talk Make You a Bit Dizzy?