A Letter from Odong-do by Shin Byong-eun

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Painted by Kim Seon-soo

A Letter from Odong-do

As people set their feet upon it,
the island’s breast firmly rises like a girl’s.
Every place the winter’s wind gets pushed away,
the breath of the people, whom spring touches earliest, is clear.
The island breathes in people’s breaths,
holds their wounds,
rolls its eyes at the edge of the cliff leading to empty air,
enters into the shadow where the white eye cries clearly
and eats a meal of wind.
Even when one whispers Odong-do,
she is surprised to the extent her waist bends,
and then adjusts her dress of white waves.
Even the sea that throws a seed of sunlight over every furrow of waves
stops for a moment to put a hand on her forehead,
and whistles into the clear wind.
People become shadows on the edge of the island
And will turn into a forest of camellias.

오동도에서 보내는 편지

발길이 닿자
섬은 소녀처럼 탱글하게 가슴이 부푼다
겨울바람을 밀어낸 자리마다
가장 먼저 봄이 닿은 사람들의 바람소리 맑다
섬은 사람들의 숨을 마시고
섬은 사람들의 상처를 받아들고
허공으로 길을 낸 벼랑 끝에 눈망울 굴리다
동박새 울음 맑은 그늘로 들어
바람의 한 끼 식사를 한다
오동도 하고 누가 속살대기만 해도
허리 젖혀 자지러지다
파도 하얀 옷춤을 여미곤 한다
파도의 이랑마다 햇살의 씨앗을 뿌리던 바다도
잠시 이마에 손을 얹고
바람 맑은 휘파람을 불어준다
섬의 가장자리에서 그늘이 된 사람들
동백숲이 된다

A Photo of Odong-do, Yeosu, Korea

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