Two Poems | Lee Young-ju | Granta

Two Poems

Lee Young-ju

Translated by Jae Kim

‘All I do is write in my sickbed diary. It’s been a while since I’ve done anything else.’ Two poems by Lee Young-ju translated by Jae Kim.

Friend’s House

At a house full of deaths hiding under the stairs. I was barefoot at the
time because my friend said, I know it’s dark, but you have to take your
shoes off in this house. You have to tread on the darkness. She caressed
my shoulder and laughed. Her face was wet, and that the rain melts
these walls was not a secret. We leaned on the melting, molding wall and
shared a cold bowl of rice. I think the guests at my house have nowhere
else to go, my friend said. She looked out the window and asked, Why
aren’t you coming in? She propped open the door for the other me, who
had yet to come in. Since I was the first one in, I got to dream of a
primitive being who casually threw away her feet and went down into
the basement’s secrets.





Long Ago, a Red Carrot

All I do is write in my sickbed diary. It’s been a while since I’ve done
anything else. I write more deeply when I’m not sick. You wrote to me
under the burning windows, Let’s not be sick, Let’s be happy together,
but your handwriting was so joyful, so extravagant that I missed home.
Wearing red, scraping at the dots drawn on your body, you were a
reflection on the window. Your outline had vanished, and ashes had
begun to fall on you. Were you enamored with the moment? Sometimes
I say what I should write in the diary. Whenever this happens, I find
myself soaked in milk, bleeding white blood. I wish everyone was happy.
You: a red carrot, wearing red upon red. We once rose at dawn and ate
breakfast together at a café that wasn’t open. There was no one else
there, and that there was no one else there scared us. We gazed at each
other, drank soup, and chewed on carrots. You grew fond of this heavy,
tedious city of mediocre conversations and fell in love – we must meet in
this ailing city until we’re in wheelchairs . . . I was writing the last entry of my
diary first. You were thinking of the woman who slept with a small,
sharp knife in her pocket. You thought the woman, who was enamored
with decorative weapons, was an ailing beast. You stuck an IV in
yourself and cried because every night you dreamed of being hunted but
couldn’t remember what had happened in the dream. The dots on your
body faded, and the green leaves on your head rustled outside the
window. How strange that green leaves would fall amidst this burning
city. I figured they must be foreigners. I can’t be writing down dreams, I
thought. I spilled milk everywhere. A long, thin tongue licked the floor.
You loved the tongue and wrote in my diary for me with your crumbling


Image © Abby Cameron

Translated by Jae Kim

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