The Floor by Noh Hyang-rim

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photographed by Lee Sang-youp

The Floor by Noh Hyang-rim

Cleaning the living room with a scrub rag
rubbing off the languor and time
that covered it thinly
cleaning the small space
of concerns and worries
covered with birch wood imported from America–
I also silently rub my niece’s slumber
who sleeps at midnight on the other side of the globe.
Who is it
that scrubs the back of my soul
that has been worn out?
Who is it
that owns such a scrub rag?

마루/ 노향림

마른 걸레로 거실을 닦으며
얇게 묻은 권태와 시간을
박박 문질러 닦으며
미국산 수입 자작나무를 깐
세 평의 근심 걱정을 닦으며
지구 저쪽의 한밤중 누워 잠든
조카딸의 잠도 소리 없이 닦아준다
다 해진 내 영혼의 뒤켠을
소리 없이 닦아주는 이는
누구일까
그런 걸레 하나쯤
갖고 있는 이는 누구일까

Noh Hyang-rim (1942- ) is from Haenam, Jeollanam-do and studied English at Jung-ang University in Seoul. She has published poetry collections such as Travel to K Town, A Country Where Snow Doesn’t Fall, A Person Without Longing Can’t See Aphae Isle, A Broken Bell Sound Comes from the Sun. In 1987 she received the Korea Literary Award for A Country Where Snow Doesn’t Fall.

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