“Lovers’ Number” by Kim Kyeong-Mi

Left to right: Hwang Dong-Kyu, Kim Kyeong-Mi, Shin Dal-Ja

Left to right: Hwang Dong-Kyu, Kim Kyeong-Mi, Shin Dal-Ja (image source)

When you enter that country it must be written down.
So,

on that night the number of your entries

and vinegar are mingled with more vinegar, then swallowed.
It’s a night where the candle’s flame downs alcohol, then flares up.
It’s a night where the black traces of tears trail down ears and past pillows.

“Open the 非常時 please.” It’s a night where, talking about the airplane’s emergency exit,
the child repeated a request ten times because of being unable to read the Chinese characters.
It’s a night where the plane’s doors were almost opened during flight.
It’s an undecipherable, disappearing night which bears your name
because the child didn’t know how to read anything else.
People say you have to eat all your food because if you throw it away, your heart will stop.
So, tonight you throw it all away without even tasting.

Yet even though you tossed it, you still do a lot of feigning to eat.
It’s a night of a face yellowed by fingers which peeled garlic.
It’s a night where because there’s no blood, there’s no quick blaze.

It’s a night where the daughter of a friend asks Virginia Woolf a question in the street.
“Ya wanna buy a thick eraser with me? To erase all the novels you wrote…”
Woolf slips a stone into her pocket and my friend’s daughter leads her to the river.
It’s a night where as she takes out the eraser, big as a full moon,
you might as well let yourself be crazy.
And so,

it’s through the art of those moments,

the number of the breakups,
people say, that by sharing maps of every shape and size
you can leave that country.

 

그 나라 입국할 때는 써넣어야 된다 합니다
그러니까

밤의 횟수를

식초를 식초에 타서 마신 밤 알코올을 촛불에 태워 마신 밤
눈 썹의 검은 눈물자국 베개를 지나 귀로 흘러든 밤

非常時 문을 여세요, 쓰인 비행기 비상문을
한 아이가 열 뻔했다는 밤 모르는 한자 때문에
하늘에서 비행기 문 열릴 뻔한 비상시의 밤
더는 읽을 수 없는 해독불가의 그대라는 실종의 밤
음식 버리면 죽어서 다 먹어야 한다는데 곧 심장 멎으리
그때 굶지 않도록 음식들 미리 버려둔 밤

버렸는데도 마구 체해 얼굴 노래진 밤 손톱으로
바늘을 따는 밤 피가 없어 솟구치지 않는 밤

버지니아 울프가 길에서 만난 친구 딸에게 물었다는 밤
너 나랑 두꺼운 지우개 사러 갈래? 그동안 쓴 소설들 다 지우게
울프 주머니에 돌멩이 넣고 강으로 데려가고
보름달 같은 국산지우개 내주면서 미칠 테면 미치라는 밤
그러니까

이별의 횟수,

그 예술의 순간으로써
저마다 모양과 부피 다른 지도를 나눠주는 게
그 나라 출국하는 방식이라 합니다

 

“Lovers’ Number” (연애의 횟수) originally appeared in Daum – 70 Representative Korean Poets.