“Love for Skins” by Choi Moon-Ja

Choi Moon-Ja (image source)

Choi Moon-Ja (image source)



When you fall in love,
it’s a blessing to have an outer skin:
a blessing everyone looks down on.
Tearing, twisting, scorching, splitting, digging up and burying,
they think so awfully low of love, but love peeled of its skin is dead.
Dying in white, black, and golden yellow hues.
Once the peel is broken, the juice of untruth seeps out
and once loved things soon lose their sense of blessing,
Like dead rice grains boiled, white eyes wide.
Like dead clams snapping their mouths.
Like a lobster’s back cracked and sold for the white inside.
Instead of peels, you showed more love for corpses,
though peels tightly wrap the body inside itself.
Tug veins tightly towards the heart.
Tug until the heart of the peel tears,
ripped in attempt to cover the entire body.
What I never knew was that a peel which yields slowly could be a blessing
because to reach your own peel, you must stretch out an arm,
and yet you’re always just grasping at the air.
Still, when you fall in love,
it’s also a blessing to be left with a bit of a skin.
Now, even in me new shoots are already appearing
as my heart keeps breaking bit by bit.

 

사랑에 빠질 때
껍질이 있는 건 축복이죠
누구나 이 축복을 까보고 싶어하죠
찢고 비틀고 지지고 쪼개고 후벼 파면서 무섭게 사랑을 까보죠
껍질이 벗겨진 사랑은 죽어 있죠
하얗고 까맣고 누렇게 죽어 있죠
껍질이 깨지면 허망의 즙들이 흘러내리죠
축복이 사라진 것들을 사랑했죠
하얗게 눈을 뜨고 죽은 흰 쌀밥 같은
입을 딱딱 벌리고 죽은 조개들 같은
랍스터 등짝을 쪼개고 판 흰 속살 같은
껍질보다 주검을 더 사랑했죠
껍질들은 안으로 몸을 잔뜩 오므리고 있죠
팽팽하게 가슴 쪽으로 핏줄을 잡아당기죠
껍질의 가슴이 찢어질 때까지 잡아당기죠
온몸을 끌어 덮으려다 찢어진 껍질이죠
조금씩 사라져가던 껍질이 축복일 줄 몰랐죠
껍질에 닿으려고 팔을 뻗어보지만
자꾸 헛손질하죠
사랑에 빠질 때
껍질이 남아 있는 건 축복이죠
이미 나에게도 새 뿌리가 나오고 있죠
조금씩 가슴이 찢어지고 있죠

 

“Love for Skins” (껍질의 사랑) originally appeared in Daum – 70 Representative Korean Poets.