A Door Opening by Ra Hee-duk

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

A Door Opening by Ra Hee-duk

A door opened
and the snow covered the heaven and earth for several days
and a thousand doors closed,
and all the feet were stranded.
Dry grasses
have buried their cold feet in the snow
and cannot even take a step.
Even sounds are trapped.
Somewhere I faintly hear a sound.
I squat down in front of water
because only the running water hasn’t closed its door,
though its edges are frozen.
With a thousand doors closed,
only the floodgate flowing toward you remains open.
Though I attempt to catch the snowflakes,
they disappear as soon as they touch water.
The wet snow within the wet eyes–
I, too, step toward the open door.

門이 열리고 / 나희덕

한 개의 門이 열려
며칠째 눈발이 천지를 메우더니
천 개의 門이 닫히고
발들은 모두 묶이고 말았네
마른 풀대도
시린 발목을 눈에 묻고
한 걸음도 내딛지 못하네
소리들도 갇혔네
어디선가 희미하게 들리는 소리,
가장자리는 얼어가지만
흐르는 물만이 門을 닫지 않아
나는 물소리 앞에 쪼그려 앉았네
천 개의 門이 닫히고
당신에게로 흐르는 水門만이 남았네
눈송이를 낚으려 하나
물에 닿는 순간 사라져버리네
젖은 눈 속에 젖은 눈,
그 열린 門으로 나도 따라 들어가네

Ra Hee-duk (나희덕) was born in 1966 in Nonsan, Chungcheongnam-do. She received her Ph.D. in Korean literature from Yonsei University in 2006. She has published six books of poetry: To the Root (1991), The Word Dyed the Leaves (1994), The Place is Not Far (1997), That It Gets Dark (2001), A Disappeared Palm (2004), and Wild Apples (2009). She also published one collection of essays, A Half-filled Water Bucket (1999), and a volume of literary criticism, Where Does Purple Come From? (2003). Among her many literary awards are the Kim Suyoung Literature Award (1998), Modern Literature Award (2003) and the Sowol Poetry Award (2007). Growing up in orphanages, because her father was an administrator at an orphanage, she developed her strong sympathy for the less fortunate others. She currently teaches creative writing at Chosun University in Gwangju.

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