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Announcing the winners of our 2020 Poems in Translation Contest in partnership with the Academy of American Poets. Read more.
from the September 2019 issue

Roommate, Woman

동거녀

"Roommate, Woman" is one of four winning poems selected by Mónica de la Torre for the Words Without Borders—Academy of Americans Poets Poem-in-Translation Contest.



Listen to Lee Young-ju read her poem "Roommate, Woman." in the original Korean.



Listen to Jae Kim read the English translation of Lee Young-ju's "Roommate, Woman."


On waking, I see my body has been rearranged. I’m reminded of the tongue you, having cried so much, dropped under the cypress tree. From then on, you began to speak with your left hand. One of my eyes, stuck to my thigh, closed and opened toward the obsolete picture. When your ovary, full of blood, keeps moving down, you open the window. A whistle sounds. The police touches the face of the rat the cat never finished. There behind your back is my pain, isolated from my knees. You knew the house would be rearranged when we woke up—I hold your hand. While we watch the pale clouds, sitting on leaking fuel tanks, our joined hands slip out the door. You pick up one of my eyes worming under your foot. It may snow. Snow (not an eye) like the bandage around my hand, smeared in crimson light.


"Roommate, Woman"  © Lee Young-ju. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2019 by Jae Kim. All rights reserved.

동거녀

깨어나면 몸의 구조가 바뀌어 있어. 네가 사이프러스 나무밑에서 너무 많이 울어 떨어뜨리고 온 혓바닥이 생각나. 그때부터 너는 왼손으로 말하기 시작했어. 내 눈 하나는 허벅지에 붙어 사라진 장면을 향해 감았다 떴지. 피로 가득 찬 자궁이 자꾸만 아래로 내려갈 때 너는 창문을 연다. 호루라기 소리가 들려. 경찰은 고양이가 먹다 남긴 쥐의 얼굴을 만지네. 네 등 뒤에는 무릎뼈에서 떨어져 나간 통증. 깨어나면 집의 구조가 바뀐다는 걸 알고 있던 너의 손을 잡는다. 가스가 조금씩 새는 가스통 위에서 창백한 구름을 보는 동안 우리가 맞잡은 손이 방문 밖으로 빠져나간다. 너는 발바닥에서 꿈틀거리는 내 눈 하나를 줍고있구나. 눈(雪)이 올 것 같아. 손에 감은 붕대처럼 붉은빛이 스민 눈이.

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