Translated by Chae-Pyong Song
Flu by Kim Hye-soon
We looked at each other in the other world
as if I existed inside the black and white picture he was looking down from.
Inside his picture I always felt cold.
Coughing trees were standing along the river, hacking away.
Whenever I awoke, I was always climbing a snowy mountain.
After narrowly making it around a corner, there were still vast white snow fields
and endless cliffs that dropped sharply from the edge.
That evening I looked out at his eyes, wide open like a frozen sky.
A rumor spread that a ghost with the flu was coming to the village.
At every chimney, clouds shook their bodies.
He is not in my body, because I drove him out.
With an avalanche in my heart I shivered for more than an hour.
As coughing trees shook down snowballs,
jagged ice shot out from the open valley.
Barefaced, I was sitting on a frozen bench,
withstanding the wind, with quivering lips.
I wanted to escape from this frame he was looking down from.
(Originally published in Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature and Culture, Volume 3, 2010)
Kim Hye-soon’s writing career began in 1979 when she published five poems, including “A Smoking Poet,” in the quarterly magazine Literature and Intelligence. Her publications include the collections From Another Constellation; A Scarecrow Father Built; A Star’s Hell; My Upanishad, Seoul; Poor Love Machine; and Calendar Factory, Factory Supervisor, Please Look. Recently she won the Daesan Literature Award for her latest collection of poems, Your First (2008). She currently teaches creative writing at Seoul Institute of the Arts.