Two Poems by Seungja Choi

by Seungja Choi

illustrator Anafelle Liu


Example static alt text
translated from the Korean 
by Cathy Park Hong and Won-Jung Kim

I Have Been to the Sea in Winter
I have been to the sea in winter.
Seagulls honked and shat their white droppings,
and a woman’s body, drifting along the sea for three days,
was hauled in by the Coast Guard patrol boat.
Her womb was open to the sea.
(The sea was polluted)
Her open womb poured out pale and sick children 
all in a daze from the trembling sea’s sunlight.
A slippery empty rind,
the dead woman floated like a piece of vinyl.
Riding on the foaming wave,
the children scattered into the five seas and six continents.
The children who have scattered into every corner of the world
will build a sturdy cobweb at Pietermaritzburg or Odendaalrust 
in South Africa, lay their eggs inside the earth 
of the Philippine jungles and spread syphilis or deliver still born babies
under Berlin’s cover of darkness, or at the Orsan or Haussmann Street in Paris.
They might start a revolution in the long, tedious night—
a revolution that’s destined to fail.
I have been to the sea in winter.
(The sea was polluted).

Come the hushed sound of a poling boat 
over the deep night’s sky.
Death aims at me
from the invisible sky.
Young dreams hide in the grassy thicket.
Leaves of grass sway all at once
and ooze sticky sap.
Stars begin to drip a white, cooled sweat.
Ping! Death fires at me
and fragments of matter flood my ears.
A dark mouth flutters for a while.      
Look! The moon, red as crow meat,
shakes the sky.
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