Sikoku, the Man Dressed as Woman by Hwang Byeong-seung

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Darcy Brandel

Sikoku, the Man Dressed as Woman by Hwang Byeong-seung

Noon spews fire from the sky’s hot summit

The lizard writes
He tears it up and writes again

(I want to shake hands, I want to touch you but my hands are in the forest)

To the old woman who throws away the parasol and collapses
To the dog that runs away into the fire, dragging its chain

The lizard, whose tail is cut off, writes
He tears it up and writes again
If you bathe in the bathtub, it surely gleams with beauty
If you are eating an apple I will be jealous of it
I am the knife gripped in your hand; it will gladly ruin your heart

At twelve, I was already a great woman who broke out of a man
Sending love letters every day to the boys my age
Who had the habits of rats to foretell the future

(I will not promise until the tail grows back and I can touch your hair. The more I try to tell the truth the stronger my lies become)

There was a time once when someone wrote shit in red on my pencil case

(I wonder why the rats cannot walk softly in the moonlight)

So I won’t forget the future I endure the stench of the back room
While putting on make-up and taking it off, while putting on a skirt and taking off a bra
I feel my stomach rise falsely and suffer morning sickness

The lizard writes
He tears it up and writes again

Your gaze that runs away toward my back whenever we embrace each other!

My love, I too have a womb. Is that wrong?
Why in the world do you still question my name?

Sikoku, Sikoku

The lizard with red lips runs

Holding a long letter in his mouth
Following the dog that disappeared into the fire
Climbing over the silence of the collapsed old woman

The lizard runs

At noon when the rose by the window
Is eating fire with dark red teeth

The hands in the forest will receive it
And the tail will read it

(My love, I will tell you once more a strong lie for the last time)

Wait for me, wait for me!

(Originally published in Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature and Culture, Volume 5 [2012])

Hwang Byung-seung was born in Seoul in 1970. He debuted in 2003 by publishing five poems including “Primary Doctor h” in Para 21. He has published two poetry collections: Sikoku, The Man Dressed as Woman and Track and the Star of the Field.

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