From Early on, I by Choe Seung-ja

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Darcy L. Brandel

Photography by Im Eung-shik

From Early on, I by Choe Seung-ja

From early on I was nothing.
Mold flowering on dry bread
wet urine stains on a wall, layers upon layers of urine
a corpse dead over a thousand years
still covered with maggots.

No parents reared me.
I lived sleeping in a rat hole and leeching off of the wretched
dying anywhere endlessly
from early on I was nothing.

So when we brush by momentarily
like falling meteors
do not tell me you know me
Idonotknowyou Idonotknowyou
YouThouBeloved, Happiness
You, Thou, Beloved, Love

That I exist
is nothing more than an everlasting rumor.

일찍이 나는

일찍이 나는 아무것도 아니었다.
마른 빵에 핀 곰팡이
벽에다 누고 또 눈 지린 오줌 자국
아직도 구더기에 뒤덮인 천년 전에 죽은 시체.

아무 부모도 나를 키워 주지 않았다
쥐구멍에서 잠들고 벼룩의 간을 내먹고
아무 데서나 하염없이 죽어 가면서
일찍이 나는 아무것도 아니었다.

떨어지는 유성처럼 우리가
잠시 스쳐갈 때 그러므로,
나를 안다고 말하지 말라.
나는너를모른다 나는너를모른다,
너당신그대, 행복
너, 당신, 그대, 사랑

내가 살아 있다는 것,
그것은 영원한 루머에 지나지 않는다.

(Originally published in The Gwangju News, March 2012)

Choe Seung-ja (1952- ) was born in Yongi, Chungcheongnam-do. She studied German literature at Korea University. Her poetry collections include Love in This AgeA Pleasant DiaryThe House of MemoryMy Grave—GreenLovers, and Forlorn and Faraway. Often employing extreme, radical language and imagery, she writes to resist social discrimination, especially patriarchy.

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