Cold Rice by Moon Jung-hee

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Painted by Hwang Soon-ok

Cold Rice by Moon Jung-hee

Rousing my sick body, I eat cold rice alone—
the ice in the cold rice pokes my throat.
We live in a world where people can cook hot rice so easily
just by pressing a button
on one of the kitchen appliances.
It’s not easy to have cold rice,
but today I eat it alone.
The woman who ate cold rice
made hot rice for the family.
The woman who scrubbed cold rice from the chipped-off bowl,
picking at the radish remnants someone left,
and licking off the fish bones,
radiated the warmest love from her body.
Longing for the hand that rattled alone
even in the deep night,
I rouse my sick body
and eat cold rice.
They say, a god couldn’t be sent to every house,
so she was sent, in lieu of a god.
In the cold rice I eat alone today I meet her,
becoming the cold rice of the world.

찬밥/ 문정희

아픈 몸 일으켜 혼자 찬밥을 먹는다
찬밥 속에 서릿발이 목을 쑤신다
부엌에는 각종 전기 제품이 있어
일 분만 단추를 눌러도 따끈한 밥이 되는 세상
찬밥을 먹기도 쉽지 않지만
오늘 혼자 찬밥을 먹는다
가족에겐 따스한 밥 지어 먹이고
찬밥을 먹던 사람
이 빠진 그릇에 찬밥 훑어
누가 남긴 무 조각에 생선 가시를 핥고
몸에서는 제일 따스한 사랑을 뿜던 그녀
깊은 밤에도
혼자 달그락거리던 그 손이 그리워
나 오늘 아픈 몸 일으켜 찬밥을 먹는다
집집마다 신을 보낼 수 없어
신 대신 보냈다는 설도 있지만
홀로 먹는 찬밥 속에서 그녀를 만난다
나 오늘
세상의 찬밥이 되어

(Originally published in The Gwangju News, January, 2012)

Mun Jung-hee (1947- ) was born in Bosung, Jeollanam-do. She received her Ph.D. from Seoul Women’s University. She made her literary debut in 1969 in The Literature Monthly. Her poetry collections include The Baby Brier, For Men, Now Following the Rose, I am the Door, The Joy of Love, and The Prolific Virgin. She received such prestigious awards as the Modern Literature Award and the Sowol Poetry Award. 

A Winter Diary by Moon Jung-hee

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Painted by Kang Jang-won

A Winter Diary by Moon Jung-hee

I have spent this winter lying down.
I have lost my loved one–
the monologues have ended
that I rolled, shiny like a rosary;
the wind has stopped,
and I have spent this winter comfortably, lying down.

Even when the naked trees in that field cry because they are cold,
even when they become a forest, leaning on one another–
having nothing to do with them, I never bothered to open the door even once;
like a ruminant, I took out only death to chew.

I spent this winter
comfortably, lying down
when I lost my loved one.

겨울 일기 / 문정희

나는 이 겨울을 누워 지냈다.
사랑하는 사람을 잃어버려
염주처럼 윤나게 굴리던
독백도 끝이 나고
바람도 불지 않아
이 겨울 누워서 편히 지냈다.

저 들에선 벌거벗은 나무들이 추워 울어도
서로 서로 기대어 숲이 되어도
나는 무관해서 문 한번 열지 않고
반추동물처럼 죽음만 꺼내 씹었다.

나는 누워서 편히 지냈다.
사랑하는 사람을 잃어버린
이 겨울.

(Originally published in The Gwangju News, January, 2012)

Mun Jung-hee (1947- ) was born in Bosung, Jeollanam-do. She received her Ph.D. from Seoul Women’s University. She made her literary debut in 1969 in The Literature Monthly. Her poetry collections include The Baby Brier, For Men, Now Following the Rose, I am the Door, The Joy of Love, and The Prolific Virgin. She received such prestigious awards as the Modern Literature Award and the Sowol Poetry Award.

Memory by Moon Jung-hee

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photographed by Kim Min-gon

Memory by Moon Jung-hee 

One person departed,
and all of Seoul is empty;
suddenly the world has changed into an opaque screen.
What you have left behind
is a magical memory
that will not melt in any time.
Today I burn my body
with its flame.

기억 /문정희

한 사람이 떠났는데
서울이 텅 비었다
일시에 세상이 흐린 화면으로 바뀌었다
네가 남긴 것은
어떤 시간에도 녹지 않는
마법의 기억
오늘 그 불꽃으로
내 몸을 태운다

Mun Jung-hee (1947- ) was born in Bosung, Jeollanam-do. She received her Ph.D. from Seoul Women’s University. She made her literary debut in 1969 in The Literature Monthly. Her poetry collections include The Baby Brier, For Men, Now Following the Rose, I am the Door, The Joy of Love, and The Prolific Virgin. She received such prestigious awards as the Modern Literature Award and the Sowol Poetry Award.