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We Carried on Laughing Like That,

그렇게 웃는 나날이 계속되었다,
by Heo Su-gyeong
Translated from Korean by
So J. Lee

그렇게 웃는 나날이 계속되었다, 낯선 이들이 이곳으로 들어와서 퍼런 큰 새를 타고 다니는 동안, 아이들은 폭탄을 주머니 속에 넣고 다녔다, 나귀가 지나가는 자리마다 검은 기름이 솟아났다, 검은 기름 속에서는 아주 오래전에 사라진 사람들이 끈적거리면서 나타나 오래전에 헐린 집에 대해서 물었다, 그때마다, 그 강변에 꽃이 피었다, 붉거나 흰 꽃들이었다, 바람이 불면 꽃은 지고, 꽃 진 자리에서 열매가 돋아났다, 돋아난 열매는 우는 여자의 눈동자 모양을 하고 있다, 열매를 먹으면 갑자기 마음속에 쟁여둔 슬픔으로 가는 마음이 사라졌다, 자지러지게 웃고 싶어서 강변으로 나가서 그렇게 웃었다, 아이들의 주머니 속에 든 폭탄이 터져 아이들이 공중에서 흩어졌다, 그런데 그렇게 웃는 나날들이 계속되었다, 우는 여자의 눈동자 같은 열매가 우리를 지켜보고 있었다,


We carried on laughing like that, children carried bombs in their pockets for as long as the strangers flew around here on enormous green wings, black oil gushed wherever a donkey stepped, people who disappeared long long ago emerged sticky from the black oil and asked about houses that’d been demolished long ago, and each time they asked flowers bloomed by the river, the flowers were red and white, when the wind blew the flowers fell, and from where the flowers fell berries grew, those berries were like the eyes of a crying woman, when we ate the berries the feelings turning to sorrow tucked away in our hearts suddenly disappeared, we went to the river because we wanted to laugh hard and so we did, the bombs in the children’s pockets went off and so the children scattered in the air, but we carried on laughing, the tearful berries were watching us,




Heo Su-gyeong. “Geureoke unneun nanari gyesokdoeeotda,” from Cheongdongui sigan, gamjaui sigan. Seoul: Mooji, 2005.

Heo Su-gyeong (1964-2018) was a diasporic South Korean writer, translator, and archaeologist. She published two poetry collections before moving to Germany in 1992 to pursue a PhD in ancient Near Eastern archaeology. Heo continued to write award-winning poems, novels, essays, and children’s books in Korean while living in Münster. (Photo copyright Moonji publishing co., Ltd.)
So J. Lee is the translator of Lee Hyemi’s Unexpected Vanilla (Tilted Axis Press, 2020), Choi Jin-young’s To the Warm Horizon (Honford Star, 2021), and Lee Soho’s Catcalling (Open Letter Books, 2021). They also make chogwa, a quarterly e-zine featuring one Korean poem and multiple English translations.