“Holding Out an Apology” by Maeng Moon-Jae

Maeng Moon-Jae, Holding Out An Apology

Maeng Moon-Jae

I turned down a village side street

and apples hanging
clung close to my steps like fire.

Because I’m poor, I knew well that touching someone else’s things
is a bad habit, but…
I wanted to break the rule just once.

The tree’s height placing apples at arms’ reach
and its miniature flowers fallen on the fence tempted me.

Humming a tune, I came to the exit of the side street when,
is that the door to the owner’s house opening?
In my surprise, I slipped the apple behind my back.
As if having seen it all, the young woman
looked on with a calm expression.
Without intending, I had become just another thief…… I closed my eyes

and when I opened them was again surprised.
An old woman, with the expression of a cow looking on her nursing calf,
had peeled an apple and held it out to me.

And like a present, I held out to her the apple I had hidden.


마을의 골목을 돌아 나오는데

담장가에 달려 있는 사과들이 불길처럼
나의 걸음을 붙잡았다

남의 물건에 손대는 행동이 나쁜 짓이라는 것을
나는 가난하기 때문에 잘 알고 있었지만
한번 어기고 싶었다

손 닿을 수 있는 사과나무의 키며
담장으로 친 앙증한 꽃들도 유혹했다

콧노래를 부르며 골목을 나오는데
주인집의 방문이 열리지 않는가
나는 깜짝 놀라 얼른 사과를 허리 뒤로 감추었다
마루에 선 아가씨는 다 보았다는 듯
여유 있는 표정이었다
꼼짝없이 도둑놈이 되었구나…… 눈을 감았다

눈을 떴을 때, 다시 놀랐다
젖을 빠는 새끼를 내려다보는 어미 소 같은 눈길로 할머니는
사과를 깎고 있는 것이었다

나는 감추었던 사과를 내밀었다, 선물처럼


In Korean, the word “apology” and “apple” have the same pronunciation, so the final line of the poem as well as its title are playing with that fact. “Holding out an Apology” (사과를 내민다) originally appeared in Daum – 70 Representative Korean Poets.