Word 1 by Noh Hyang-rim

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Word 1 by Noh Hyang-rim

Without explanation,
Word would sometimes
lean alone on the apartment’s veranda rail
to watch the sun set
and disappear suddenly somewhere
into darkness.

Word appears to have
bone and flesh. For awhile
it is out of touch, and then
one day it stands outside
the window in a dark place
or unexpectedly runs from the first
floor to the fifth, thumping.

Often I see it wandering
around the village in the day
and in the night. But I have never
seen the face of Word.
I can’t touch it either.

Perhaps
Word now is wind
or a person who lives in the air.

.1/ 노향림

어떤 말(言語)인지 말은 가끔
아파트 베란다에 걸터앉아
저녁해가 지는 것을 혼자
바라다 보기도 하고 훌쩍
어둠 속 어디엔가 사라져
버립니다.

말에게도 뼈가 있고 살이
있는가 봅니다. 한동안
소식이 끊겼다가 어느날은
어둑하게 창밖에 서 있거나
느닷없이 1층에서 5층까지
쿵쿵쿵 소리를 냅니다.

어느 때는 매일 밤 매일 낮
온 동네를 소리없이 헤매다니는 것을
봅니다. 그러나 말의 얼굴은
단 한번도 본 적이 없읍니다.
만져볼 수도 없읍니다.

–말은 이제 바람이거나
허공에 사는 사람인지도
모릅니다.

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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.

The Dead Sea by Noh Hyang-rim

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photographed by Kim Hee-jong (Harvesting Cockles in Hwayang-myeon, Yeosu)

The Dead Sea

There was another sea
before the sea

near which a polio-stricken boy stood
like a speck of a petal.

Pickled fish
lay on the street stall.

Mother’s body
always emitted
a salty sea smell.

To float on the dead sea,
our family made our bodies and hearts
light

and knelt down on the cold floor
and prayed

until the bell tower on the hill
rang at dawn.

Mother was
a pickled sea
that rested in the world.

死 海/ 노향림

한 점 꽃잎처럼
소아마비 소년이 서 있는

바다 앞은
또 바다였다

소금절인
생선들이 좌판에 누워 있고

어머니의 몸에선
늘 짜디 짠 바다냄새가
풍겼다

사해바다에 뜨기 위해
식구들은
몸과 마음이 가벼워져서

언덕배기 뾰족탑의
새벽종이 울릴 때까지

찬 바닥에 엎드려
기도했다

어머니는
세상에 누워 있는
절인 바다였다

Aphae Isle 8 by Noh Hyang-rim

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Hongdo Island in Shinan County, Jeollanam-do, Korea


Aphae Isle 8 by Noh Hyang-rim

People in Aphae Isle
cannot see the island.
Shading the sun,
I lift up my eyes,
the isle startles more than people—
this isle without ears.
It is as though they have gone to Van Gogh’s village–
the whistling sound
that children with horn-rimmed glasses make.
In the village of low-built houses
where the grasses standing in one line
dart around on their tiptoes,
every house’s ears are cut off,
and during all four seasons
the grasses open only one ear.
A person without longing
cannot see Aphae Isle;
she cannot listen to Aphae Isle.

압해도 8/ 노향림

압해도 사람들은
압해도를 보지 못하네.
이마받이을 하고
문득 눈을 들면
사람보다 더 놀란 압해도
귀가 없는 압해도
반 고호의 마을로 가는지
뿔테 안경의 아이들이 부는
휘파람 소리
일렬로 늘어선 풀들이
깨금발로 돌아다니고
집집의 지붕마다 귀가 잘려
사시사철 한쪽 귀로만 풀들이 피는
나지막한 마을
그리움이 없는 사람은
압해도를 보지 못하네.
압해도를 듣지 못하네.

 

 

Flowers beyond Borders by Noh Hyam-rim

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photographed by Hye Hyon

Flowers Beyond Borders

When flowers wither, where do they go?
The world begins with little things—
wildflowers that bloom without sound
under the bright sunlight.
Strung together, the size of a mung bean,
they stand squarely while beads of their lives shake,
making a slant in the sky.
In my heart they tell me as if a hallucination
that they have vulnerable insides
and that they have sorrow, cold and clear.
When it gets cloudy and the sleet falls,
with the sound of a blue tendon breaking and murmuring,
soon petals rustle down.
Like tears, like smoke,
they lie fallen down on the ground like people.
In the place the flowers fell, time has already come
and swarms like a school of larva.
When flowers fall, where do they go?
What border do they go beyond?
Under what name do they get buried?

꽃들은 경계를 넘어간다/ 노향림

꽃들이 지면 모두 어디로 가나요.
세상은 아주 작은 것들로 시작한다고
부신 햇빛 아래 소리 없이 핀
작디작은 풀꽃들,
녹두알만한 제 생명들을 불꽃처럼 꿰어 달고
하늘에 빗금 그으며 당당히 서서 흔들리네요.
여린 내면이 있다고 차고 맑은 슬픔이 있다고
마음에 환청처럼 들려주어요.
날이 흐리고 눈비 내리면 졸졸졸
그 푸른 심줄 터져 흐르는 소리
꽃잎들이 그만 우수수 떨어져요.
눈물같이 연기같이
사람들처럼 땅에 떨어져 누워요.
꽃 진 자리엔 벌써 시간이 와서
애벌레떼처럼 와글거려요.
꽃들이 지면 모두 어디로 가나요.
무슨 경계를 넘어가나요.
무슨 이름으로 묻히나요.

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.