“Disappointed Love” by Hwang Seong-Hee

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Cheolli-dong, Seoul Hostel. A wall with an unfamiliar face in a wanted poster delicately nailed to it. Stars made with blue cellophane stuck to the reception room door. A round, worn out woman. Is she alone? Room 205, heels turned to sneakers by snapping off the heel. There is also a bathhouse. A pair of black slippers in mismatched sizes. Dry toilet paper stuck to the bottom of the trashcan. A jet-black, tangled mass in the drain. Is there really nobody here to help me? A television above the cupboard with its door drawn off the hinges. Though it looked like she locked the door once she took payment, the door knob is broken. Same as always.

Winged black insects trapped and dying on the lampshade. Did I ever really believe in tomorrow? Butterfly-like stains on the walls. Who reached for the other’s hand first? Both out of place like a dresser drawer turned upside down. What sound could I have heard from the mirror? I was definitely in the present, but we tried to get along in one house. He used to whisper to me, but he has vanished completely. I used to carry a pair of worn out eyes in my bag and squeeze them throughout the day. There’s no voice in the dull cry of a telephone.

I brush off a few dry pubic hairs from the blanket. Just outside the window, the whisperings of many nights which refuse to melt gradually accumulate. From somewhere, moisture oozes out of me. And in a cruel act of persuasion, the clock decides not to stand still as I slowly flow somewhere else. Even so, it’s now. Not a time a rummaging through the past.


천리동 서울여관. 수배자들의 낯선 얼굴이 촘촘히 박힌 벽. 파란 셀로판지로 별을 만들어 붙인 안내실 창문. 둥글게 닳은 여자. 혼자세요? 갈라진 뒤꿈치로 운동화를 꺾어 신고 안내한 205호. 목욕탕도있어요. 크기가 짝짝이인 검은 슬리퍼. 휴지통 바닥 꾸덕꾸덕 말라붙은 휴지. 털이 엉켜 새까만 하수구.
더올사람진짜없죠? 문짝이 떨어져나간 장식장 위로 텔레비젼. 둥근 여자는 선불을 받자 생긴건이래도잘잠겨요 돌아서 나갔지만. 손잡이는 부서져 있었다. 아득한 그 언젠가처럼.

전등갓 속 가무스름 갇혀 죽은 날벌레들. 내일을믿은게사실인가요. 벽지의 얼룩은 여전히 나비처럼. 누가먼저손을잡았죠? 옷장의 서랍은 위아래가 서로 어긋난 채. 그때거울속에서무슨소리를봤나요. 나는 분명 현재 속에 있었지만 우린한집에서썩기로했습니다 속삭이던 그는 깜쪽같이 사라졌다. 가방 속에는 온종일 쥐고 다니던 낡은 눈동자 한 쌍. 지겹게 울리는 전화기 속에서는 아무 목소리도 들리지 않는데.

이불을 들춰 바싹 마른 음모 몇 개를 털어낸다. 창밖으로 두런두런 녹지 못할 밤이 점점 내려 쌓인다. 얼굴 어딘가에서 물기가 번져나온다. 잔인한 설득처럼 시계는 멈추지 않고 나는 나를 조금씩 다른 곳으로 흘러보내게 되겠지만. 그래도 지금은. 지나간 시간 속을 뒤지는 것 말고는.

“Disappointed Love” (실연) originally appeared in Daum – 70 Representative Korean Poets.