From a crevice in a severed rock / birds with long beaks were tearing out earthworms. / My pain was without a wound / and in the bodies of the frayed, torn-out worms / there was no pain.
August 28, 2018
To Whom I Could Give This Pain
After climbing a hill and wondering to whom I could
give this pain after stripping it off,
I saw toppled trees drying
on a hillside dug up by mechanical diggers.
It was a shivering winter’s day,
the short-lived sun veiled by sparse clouds.
From a crevice in a severed rock
birds with long beaks were tearing out earthworms.
My pain was without a wound
and in the bodies of the frayed, torn-out worms
there was no pain.
I Dislike This Greenish Hue
In spring, if I tilt my neck
toward the sunlight
a greenish hue gathers around my eyes,
and since I dislike this greenish hue
coming in pastel tones
I shake my head to get rid of it.
After repeated shaking
my body is left unclothed,
like a mermaid on cold sand.
A Fly Too is a Very Pretty Insect
In the area around Chungmu or Goseong, in South
people call a fly a “floy,” and like a floy, a fly too is a very
A fly coming into the apartment one early winter’s day
will not fly away, no matter how hard you pursue it,
it just flies a few inches, crouches down and falls into a
as before. “Floy.” My father, nearly eighty years old,
doggedly refuses to take a taxi. With bags full of garlic
and dried persimmons,
sometimes carrying an even heavier apple box, he
changes buses twice
to come visit his son’s high-up apartment. In the old
this bent old man in a dirty raincoat used to eat instant
or cheap buns to save money for his child’s schooling
and his only hobby is to get angry over little things for
The only son for three generations from a poor family
with no land of its own,
my gray-haired father no longer weeps loudly at
Grandmother’s memorial ceremony.
Instead of weeping, he merely clears his throat, sounding
like a rusty bottle-cap,
and nowadays he does not speak up, even when someone
Floy, on our last visit to Grandmother’s grave, unable to
came to a halt like a broken-down second-hand car
after gasping several times, and my wife supported him
Climbing and stopping, going on then stopping again,
how far had we climbed?
As my father sat breathing heavily on a hillside rock, a
having followed him that far, quietly folded its wings on
“To Whom I Could Give This Pain,” “I Dislike This Greenish Hue” and “A Fly Too is a Very Pretty Insect” are used by permission from Ah, Mouthless Things (Green Integer Press, 2017). Copyright © 2018 Lee Seong-Bok.