Foreigners are sitting. Even though it’s my house, only the use of a foreign language is allowed. A person who’s lost her language, I circle the living room. A bright steam rises from the kettle and dissipates. A soft pitch. Languages are afloat, like feathers. Soft wings. I stretch my hand out to catch a scurrying sound. If I lose my meaning, can I slowly rise? Like this? What is meaning if it won’t reach each other? White snow falls, falls outside my window. I hear words I don’t understand, and as someone who can’t speak, I’m now the quietest person in my house. Foreigners brush each other’s shoulders, like brushing off feathers. If I lose the deeper meaning, would I be able to fold my wings, leave my house, and get to a new house? Outside the window, it’s snowing, snowing. As the only person in my house who’s lost a house, I drink a cup of tea, like the foreigners do. A soft steam. A soft missing.
Copyright © 2019 translation by Jae Kim
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Lee Young-ju is a contemporary South Korean poet. Her books of poetry include The Hundred-and-Eighth Man (Munhakdongne, 2005), Sister (Minumsa, 2010), and Cold Candies (Moonji, 2014). She has received the Arts Council of Korea’s literature and creative writing grant and the Creativity Award Fellowship from the Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture. Lee’s fourth collection of poetry is forthcoming with Moonji.
Jae Kim is a writer from South Korea and a translator of Korean and Japanese literature. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in NOON, Conjunctions, Guernica, Poem-a-Day, Poetry Review, Words Without Borders, Lana Turner, The Rupture, and other literary journals. He teaches creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis, where he is a member of the International Writers’ Program.