The World’s Spine by Jung Kut-byol

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

A man giving his shoes to a homeless girl in Rio de Janeiro

The World’s Spine by Jung Kut-byol

Someone gives me her bosom,
Someone supplies me money,
Someone offers me her lips,
Someone lends her shoulders to me

To provide is
to lift you up to a higher place,
stroking the end of your branches that shove in blindly,
shivering on a deserted mound;
it is to wait for you, lying down low
waking up the root end of you, who has been buried alone in the ground

Like providing water to a rice field
Like offering tears to a wound
Like serving as a bottom to a bottomless bottom–
to become holy rice
to an open mouth
that has sowed and reaped a life

rather than saying I love you

세상의 등뼈/ 정끝별

누군가는 내게 품을 대주고
누군가는 내게 돈을 대주고
누군가는 내게 입술을 대주고
누군가는 내게 어깨를 대주고

대준다는 것, 그것은
무작정 내 전부를 들이밀며
무주공산 떨고 있는 너의 가지 끝을 어루만져
더 높은 곳으로 너를 올려준다는 것
혈혈단신 땅에 묻힌 너의 뿌리 끝을 일깨우며
배를 대고 내려앉아 너를 기다려 준다는 것

논에 물을 대주듯
상처에 눈물을 대주듯
끝모를 바닥에 밑을 대주듯
한생을 뿌리고 거두어
벌린 입에
거룩한 밥이 되어 준다는 것, 그것은

사랑한다는 말 대신

Jung Kut-byol is a professor of Korean literature at Myungji University in Seoul, South Korea. Since 1988, she has worked as both a poet and a critic. She has published four poetry collections, My Life: A Birch Tree (1996), A White Book (2000), An Old Man’s Vitality (2005), and Suddenly (2008) and two collections of critical essays, The Poetics of Parody (1997) and The Language of Poetry Has a Thousand Tongues (2008). She has also edited an anthology titled In Anyone’s Heart, Wouldn’t a Poem Bloom? 100 Favorite Poems Recommended by 100 Korean Poets (2008).

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