Kim Hyesoon, trans. by Don Mee Choi
Your dead lover wants to meet you. Wants to meet you at a café. Wants to meet you in a restroom. Wants to meet you at a hospital. Wants to meet you overseas. If not here or there, wants to meet you in bed. Just for a brief moment. There’s no use avoiding it. Tells you to come outside the window, for a brief moment. Just wants to see your face.
Your dead lover asks why you’ve come. That it’s not time for you to meet yet. But since you’ve come she asks you to lie down. Asks you to fall asleep since you’re lying down. Asks you to leave since you’ve slept. Tells you to put on your shoes properly. Tells you that you don’t need to shout so much. That you don’t need to fall down so much. No need for your knees to be scraped at all.
Your dead lover comes to you. Even though she doesn’t open the door. Even though she’s not carrying a bag. Even though she’s not wearing shoes. Even though she’s not coughing. She wouldn’t be able to come to you so often if she were alive. She still comes without an appointment. Even though she’s undressed. Even though she’s buried in the ground.
You walk beneath the sea that’s filled with your lover. Beneath the raging sea filled with your lover. You walk beneath the sea, unable to breathe, unable to stop breathing. You walk beneath the stormy sea. Beneath the raining sea. You walk gasping through the vast trembling blue, the sea ceiling, the sea floor, the sea wall, the sea window. You walk beneath the sea and see your lover whichever direction you turn your head. No one can see from the outside, but several meters beneath the sea two whales are having a bloody fight.
Your dead lover wants to drink tea with you. Wants to eat with you. Wants to wash her face with you. Wants to play with you. Wants to travel with you in your dream. You were trying to find a way to break up with your lover, but your lover removes her hands from her eyes and asks you what your name is. She asks, Haven’t we met before?
Don Mee Choi's translations of Kim Hyesoon's "Name, Day Forty-Two" as well as "Such Painful Hallucination, Day Forty" can be read in the print edition of The Arkansas International 2.
Kim Hyesoon is one of the most influential contemporary poets of South Korea. She lives in Seoul and teaches creative writing. Her most recent books in translation include Sorrotoothpaste Mirrorcream (Action Books, 2014), I’m OK, I’m Pig! (Bloodaxe Books, 2014), and Poor Love Machine (Action Books, 2016).
Don Mee Choi is the author of Hardly War (Wave Books, 2016), The Morning News is Exciting (Action Books, 2010), a chapbook, Petite Manifesto (Vagabond, 2014), and a pamphlet, Freely Frayed (Wave Pamphlet #9). She has received a Whiting Award, Lannan Literary Fellowship, and Lucien Stryk Translation Prize.