Jirisan Mountain by Lee Si-young

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Jiri Mountain, Photography by Bok Hyo-geun

Jirisan Mountain by Lee Si-young

I still do not know the name of the man with the disheveled hair.
The mountain man came down stealthily like a fox when the night deepened,
and hid himself in Sister’s room.
The man approached the paper screen door
to hand over the deer-hoof flowers and gooseberries with a smile,
and, when I tried to touch his big foot,
he suddenly disappeared over the back wall.
Even when the gunshots from the Bungdemi lookout flew up
and the pine-knot fire rolled up from the search crew behind the mountain,
his black hand came without fail to hand over the kudzu roots.
Sister embraced the frightened animal who rode upon the foot of the mountain,
holding her breath in the boiling night–
it was that night when Sister packed up and escaped to the mountain.
The man was hung up on the back wall, pierced by a bamboo spear,
spilling blood and reeking a foul smell.
Father, returning from the police station, hid himself in the bamboo forest,
and even when our house was burning, Sister didn’t come back.
There was only a rumor that a full-term pregnant woman came down
to the neighboring village and, assisted by night, gave birth to a vibrant boy
and disappeared.

지리산(智異山)/ 이시영 

나는 아직 그 더벅머리 이름을 모른다
밤이 깊으면 여우처럼 몰래
누나 방으로 숨어들던 산사내
봉창으로 다가와 노루발과 다래를 건네주며
씽긋 웃던 큰 발 만질라치면
어느새 뒷담을 타고 사라지던 사내
벙뎀이 감시초에서 총알이 날고
뒷산에 수색대의 관솔불이 일렁여도
검은 손은 어김없이 찾아와 칡뿌리를 내밀었다
기슭을 타고 온 놀란 짐승을 안고
끓는 밤 숨죽이던 누나가
보따리를 싸 산으로 도망간 건 그날밤
노린내 나는 피를 흘리며 사내는
대창에 찔려 뒷담에 걸려 있었다
지서에서 돌아온 아버지가 대밭에 숨고
집이 불타도 누나는 오지 않았다
이웃 동네에 내려온 만삭의 처녀가
밤을 도와 싱싱한 사내애를 낳고 갔다는 소문이 퍼졌을 뿐

Lee Si-young (1949- ) was born in Gurye, Jeollanamdo. He studied creative writing at Seorabeol College of Arts. Since his literary debut in 1969, he has published poetry collections such as The Full Moon (1976), Into the Wind (1986), Friend, the Road Is Far (1988), The Song Dangling with Dew (1991), The Pattern (1994), The Gap (1996), The Quiet Blue Sky (1997), The Silver Whistle (2003), The Sea Lake (2004), The Aroma of Cow Dung(2005), and For Our Dead (2007). He has received many prestigious literary awards, including The Jung Ji-yong Literary Award (1996), The Dongseo Literary Award (1998), Modern Buddhist Literary Award (2004), The Jihoon Award (2004) and The Baeksok Literary Award (2004). For the last forty years, he has strived to write “poetry, resisting the reality and contradictions of the day.” He currently teaches creative writing at Dankuk University in Seoul.


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