Lee, Hee Kuk, an eminent poet from Korea, the Land of Morning Calm, shares his three poems
Lee, Hee Kuk is an eminent poet of South Korea. He is Pharmacist and Adjunct Professor of College of Pharmacy, The Catholic University of Korea, and a member of Executive of PEN Korean Center of PEN International. He published 5 poetry books and won 4 Literature awards.
Clock running backwards
When I was four years old, I sometimes peed and pooped.
My mother cleaned it up like it was no big deal.
Fog covers your memories
How old am I?
Am I a hundred years old? Am I eighty-nine years old?
She asks her son her age
You are the age of my childhood.
Even the memories from before are slowly erased.
That damn eraser
When she came to her senses for a moment,
To save her last bit of dignity, she put down the pants she had been washing,
She went to her room to find something.
Her bathroom is a mess, like the cabbage patch she used to fertilize.
Night when the family sleeps
Swallowing the bitter smell like my mother back in the day
I close the door tightly and make no noise as I wash her pants.
Just like my mother washed my four-year-olds.
거꾸로 가는 시계
네 살 때 나는 가끔 오줌, 똥을 쌌다고 했다
별일 아닌 듯 그것을 치웠을 어머니
당신의 기억에 안개가 덮이고
나 몇 살이니?
백 살이니? 여든 아홉이니?
그때의 내 나이가 되셨다
잠시 전 기억도 슬쩍 없애 버리는
저 지독한 지우개
깜빡 정신들 때,
마지막 품위를 지키려 빨던 바지를 놓아두고
무엇을 찾으려 했는지 방으로 갔다
거름 주던 배추밭처럼 화장실이 난장이다
가족이 잠든 밤
그 옛날 어머니처럼 지린내를 삼키며
문을 꼭 닫고 소리 죽여 바지를 빤다
어머니가 나의 네 살을 빨던 것처럼.
Open the sluice gate
In the freshwater lake of my heart
It contains over thirty years of time.
Children who get sick frequently like sprouts curled up in the spring cold
Like a leaf with only the veins remaining
They give all the moist and soft insides to their children.
Grumpy people sitting alone at the table
Even though they collapse from the pain
Old people gasping that they are okay,
Elderly person with dementia who erases even black and white time
The affectionate wind that passes by one by one
A lake prepared for dawn prayers
Today, at the Tokyo Pharmacy at Samjeong Intersection,
They come with pain and loneliness without a prescription.
Empty branches that have given up all their flowers and fruits
To those with broken hearts
I open the floodgates of my heart wide
I give them comfort like sweet rain.
내 마음의 담수호에는
삼십년이 넘는 시간이 담겨있다
꽃샘추위에 웅크린 새싹처럼 병치레가 잦은 아이들
잎맥만 남은 잎사귀처럼
촉촉하고 말랑한 속 자식에게 다 주고
식탁 앞에 혼자 앉은 푸석푸석한 사람들
괜찮다고 숨을 몰아쉬는 노인들,
흑백의 시간조차 지워가는 치매어르신
한바탕씩 스치고 가는 애틋한 바람을
새벽기도로 준비하는 호수
오늘도 삼정사거리 동경약국에는
아픔과 외로움을 들고 찾아온다
꽃과 열매를 다 내어준 빈 가지들
가슴 쩍쩍 갈라진 사람들에게
마음의 수문을 활짝 열어
단비 같은 위로를 포장해준다.
Being able to squeeze in
It means there is still a chance
Even walls that seem solid slowly melt away
It can be soaked.
The coming of spring means
That a handful of breaths have come together to melt the thick ice wall.
When the whole world is dark,
When the wind blows so hard that it takes my breath away
I will see those slender weeds blooming through the rock.
A piece of grass under a rock
I removed the stones.
I can see the weeds sticking out with my back bent