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Bones

by Kim Kwang-Kyu
Translated from Korean by
Brother Anthony of Taizé

When I saw on an X-ray film
the bones that hold up my body,
they seemed not at all to be mine.
The fractured rib was not
made of stainless steel
or of plastic
but neither was it the rafters
of a God-given soul.

Dust of anchovies and eels
piling up over a few dozen years,
hardening and growing into bones
that I have never once seen
and have taken too much for granted.
Everything made of dust,
gathered together and hardened,
sometime or other cracks, breaks,
and is finally smashed back into dust.

The bones that hold up my body too
will turn at last to dust
and after drifting like snow-flakes through space
will one day pile up again.
My fractured rib too,
sometime or other will twirl
here and there as dust no longer mine
and be quite unable to remember anything
of my pain.

These bones will break and leave me.
In the bustling market and streets too
no one stays very long.
All hurry past and vanish
and between the gaunt but lingering trees
the wind comes blowing.
It too belongs to no one.

Author
Kim Kwang-Kyu is a South Korean poet and translator.
Brother Anthony is a translator, scholar, and member of the monastic community of Taizé who has lived in Korea since 1980. He is Emeritus Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Sogang University. He has written books and articles about English literature and translated more than thirty works of modern Korean literature, mostly poetry. Brother Anthony has won the Korea Times Translation Award, the Republic of Korea Literary Award for Translation, the Daesan Award for Translation, and the Korea PEN Translation Prize.