for me who asked but did not receive forgiveness

Language: Korean
Poet: Kim Yi-deum
Translator: Jake Levine and Soeun Seo

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for me who asked but did not receive forgiveness

Two poems by Kim Yi-deum translated by Jake Levine and Soeun Seo

Kim Yi-deum made her literary debut in 2001 in Poesie. Her books include three poetry collections—A Stain in the Shape of a Star (2005), Cheer up, Femme Fatale (2007), Inexpressible Love (2011)—and a novel, Blood Sisters (2011). Cheer Up, Femme Fatale, a book of her selected poems, was published recently by Action Books. It was translated by Jiyoon Lee, Don Mee Choi, and Johannes Goransson. She won the first Poetry and the World Literary Award (2010) and the Kim Daljin Changwon Literary Award (2011). She received her PhD for her thesis, “Feminist Poems in Korea,” and has been teaching at Kyungsang University. In 2012, she stayed at the Free University of Berlin as a writer in residence, participating in the Writer-in-Residence Abroad Program of the Arts Council Korea (ARKO). Action Books plans to publish a forthcoming English translation of her poems. She participates courtesy of the Literature Translation Institute of Korea. She is currently working as a columnist for a Busan newspaper and as host of a poetry-themed radio program.
Jake Levine has translated a full-length book of poetry, Kim Kyung Ju’s I AM A SEASON THAT DOES NOT EXIST IN THE WORLD; a book of experimental writing, Tomas Butkus’ GOD / THING; and a chapbook of poems by Kim Yi Deum. The recipient of numerous grants and awards, including funding from the Korean Translation Institute, a Korean Government scholarship, and a Fulbright scholarship, his translations, essays, and writing has appeared in places such as The New York Times, Boston Review, Guernica, Gulf Coast, The Literary Review, etc… Additionally, he writes a series of syndicated articles in the Korean literary magazine Munjang, translating and introducing contemporary American poets to a Korean general audience. He is the author of two poetry chapbooks, an editor at Spork Press, and is currently getting his PhD in comparative literature at Seoul National University.
Soeun Seo is from Seoul. She writes fiction and poetry and is currently co-translating a book of poems by Kim Yi-Deum.

아우라보다 아오리

벚꽃나무 아래 사과 파는 노파
조시나 죽으셨나
엉덩이가 바닥에 닿을락말락
덧없는 간극
덤불 부스러기 줄 하나
사도 그만 안 사도 그만

갈 데가 없어
타는 버스
한내 1 길발 110 번
한 노선밖에
타도 그만이고 안 타도 그만

맨 뒷자리 창에 기대어 비스듬히
바라보는 오래된 취미
어쩐지 나는 무호흡의 깊은 잠을

내린 곳은 북한 신의주 시내
수영복이 든 비닐가방을 들고 누군가를 기다리는 나
손 흔들며 오는 남자
희미한 얼굴 번져나가는 살결, 햇살이 혀끝으로 그를 핥고

아마 우리는 아주 평범한 연인 사이
수줍고 어색하게
풀장도 가고 포옹도 하는

눈을 뜨네 나는
아우라가 사라지네
운전기사 쪽으로 굴러가는 푸른
아오리 가망 없는 도망
깨어난 나는 데스데모나 팥쥐 애너벨 리 살아난 바리데기
현실은 꿈 없는 예외적 시간
사라진 방앗간에서 불어오는 고추 마르는 냄새

More Than Aura, Aori

Selling Aori apples under a cherry blossom tree, that granny
Has either dozed off or she is dead.
Ass almost to grass
And the gap between, fleeting
A vein inside the leaf of a crumbled bush
Is about the same whether you buy it or not.

With nowhere to go
I ride the bus.
The 110 to Hannae Street
Has just one route
Whether you ride it or not.

I have this old hobby of staring sideways
Leaning askew against the window of the back seat of the bus and
In the deep sleep of breathlessness, somehow, I exist.

In downtown Sinuiju, North Korea, I get off.
Holding a vinyl bag with a bathing suit inside, I wait.
A man approaches, waving.
A faint face spreading out its skin, the sun licks him with the tip of its tongue.

I guess we are a pretty mundane couple.
Bashful, awkwardly
We hug each other and go to public pools.

Whenever I open my eyes
The ambience disappears.
An escape attempt without hope, the green
Aori rolls toward the driver of the bus.
Awake, I am Desdemona, Patzzi, Annabelle Lee, the Barideki
Living reality in an exceptional time without dreams—
The drying smell of peppers
Blowing out a mill that disappeared.

사과 없어요

아 어쩐다, 다른 게 나왔으니, 주문한 음식보다 비싼 게 나왔으니, 아 어쩐다, 짜장면 시켰는데 삼선짜장면이 나왔으니, 이봐요, 그냥 짜장면 시켰는데요, 아뇨, 손님이 삼선짜장면이라고 말했잖아요, 아 어쩐다, 주인을 불러 바꿔달라고 할까, 아 어쩐다, 그러면 이 종업원이 꾸지람 듣겠지, 어쩌면 급료에서 삼선짜장면 값만큼 깎이겠지, 급기야 쫓겨날지도 몰라, 아아 어쩐다, 미안하다고 하면 이대로 먹을 텐데, 단무지도 갖다 주지 않고, 아아 사과하면 괜찮다고 할 텐데, 아아 미안하다 말해서 용서 받기는커녕 몽땅 뒤집어쓴 적 있는 나로서는, 아아, 아아, 싸우기 귀찮아서 잘못했다고 말한 후 제거되고 추방된 나로서는, 아아 어쩐다, 쟤 입장을 모르는 바 아니고, 그래 내가 잘못 발음했을지 몰라, 아아 어쩐다, 전복도 다진 야채도 싫은데

No Apology

what to do, something else was delivered, something more expensive than the food I ordered, what to do, I didn’t ask for seafood, look here, I ordered regular jajangmyeon, no, you ordered seafood jajangmyeon, should I call the owner and tell him to change it, what to do, if I call, the employee will get chewed out or he will have the seafood rate deducted from his pay or, at the worst, he’ll get fired, oh hell, if he says sorry I’ll eat it, but he didn’t even give me pickled radish, he didn’t even apologize, if only he said sorry, for me who asked but did not receive forgiveness, for me who received all the blame, for me, my expulsion, my deletion, after not putting forth the effort to fight, apologizing, mercy me, it’s not like I don’t know his position, maybe I mispronounced it, in any case, I don’t like abalone, I hate chopped vegetables