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The Things that Happen in City B

B시에서 일어날 일
by Yideum Kim
Translated from Korean by
Hedgie Choi & Soeun Seo & Jake Levine
Issue 30 Online Exclusive

B시말단에사는그녀의엄마는전도사입니다.보나마나성경을읽고말씀을전파합니다.여자가지그시딸의뺨을누르면그녀는웃음을억누르지못해,딸림음건반처럼쑥내려갑니다.하행선을타고바닷가에닿는기분이들어요.

B시의변두리에는매춘부가사는골목이있었어요.소녀는나처럼중얼중얼거렸죠.자신만편애하다가자기를사랑하는사람에게질투를느낀애였죠.그나저나에이즈에감염되어북풍으로가는배타고떠났다고합니다.어쩌면에이즈를복음처럼퍼뜨릴지모르죠.

거기엔때밀이아저씨가살고,
죽은이를기다리는염장이삼촌과그보다자부심강한무면허의사도살아,내가평상에누우면발가락을공짜로따줍니다.나도뭔가퍼뜨려야하지않을까요?

다만꼭그래야만한다면,
허무와활기가동시에
B시의밑바닥에서어지럽게퍼져오를거예요.

상체보다하체가발달되어버려내푸른스타킹이터진다면,
녹슨쇠줄에감겨올라온소년의손목아대처럼
영화관오징어마냥내다리도좍좍찢어야할까요?

B시에는C급영화에대한격찬과맹목도없습니다.그냥뭉클한게싫은작위적기쁨과달래,민들레뿌리처럼거칠고허연나의손발이있습니다.냉증을앓아서로악수도잘하지않는이웃들.

새벽마다누군가꼭운다는것,새벽교회든여관입구든마루끝이든.
결혼식피로연식권처럼지나면쓸모없는내가반한
B시에는순간온수기가있고선박소음이끊이지않아,
어째서인지걷잡을수없이,

꼭그럴필요도없는데,
하나마나한말을하는B시인이있습니다,비인간적이죠.

악수하기전허벅지사이손넣는건그런거죠,손님받기전전기장판을펴는골목아가씨나전도사처럼말단을데운후기도해나쁠건없잖아요.더아래로좀더후방으로가면내뺨에닿아요. B시는비일비재한시,골목끝,갑판아래,물결속에서나는당신을기다려요.가라앉아버린여객선내부에서솟구치며여전히.

Her mom who lives at the edge of City B is an evangelist. No doubt she reads the bible and spreads the gospel. When any woman presses gently on her daughter’s cheek, she can’t suppress her smile. Feeling like she’s going to the seaside on a southbound train, she fawns like the trill note of a piano key.

 

At the outskirts of City B, there was an alley where sex workers lived. The girl there used to murmur like I do. She was her own favorite, and when someone else loved her, she got jealous. Anyway, I heard she got AIDS and left on a boat sailing on the north wind. Maybe she’ll spread AIDS like the gospel?

 

The outskirts of City B, a professional exfoliator lives there and an undertaker uncle who waits for the dead also lives there and also a very proud but unlicensed doctor. If I lie on his wooden plank, he pricks my toes for free. I wonder, shouldn’t I be spreading something too?

 

I really should spread something!
From the very bottom of City B, in dizzying fumes
futility and vigor will spread simultaneously!

 

What if my lower body gets more developed than my upper body?
Would my blue stocking rip
like a boy’s wristband caught in a rusted chain?
Should I rip my legs apart
like those squid snacks at the theater?

 

In City B there is no high praise or blind love for C grade movies. There is only the contrived joy of hating mushy bullshit. There is only my rough and white hands and feet like the roots of dandelions and chives. And neighbors, neighbors that don’t shake hands because their hands are cold from poor circulation.

 

Someone is always crying at dawn. Either at the morning church service, or at the entrance of a motel, or at the end of those wood floors you find only in Korean buildings.
Useless like an invitation for a wedding banquet that already happened, I
have fallen for City B, a place
with water heaters, a place
where the boats make endless noise.
For some reason, as if he can’t help himself,

 

even though there is absolutely no need for it whatsoever,
Poet B is always saying things that aren’t worth saying. That B-grade human, it’s inhumane.

 

Putting your hands between your thighs before shaking someone’s hand, that’s like a street woman laying down an electric blanket before taking in customers, or like an evangelist warming up her extremities. There’s no harm in it. If you go down, a little more to the rear, you’ll touch my cheek. B city is a B-grade poem. In its dead ends, beneath the deck and ripples of water, I wait for you. Gushing up from inside a passenger boat that sunk, yours, always.

 

 

_____

 

Kim, Yideum. “The Things That Happen in City B” from Hysteria. Seoul: Moonji, 2014.

Author
Kim Yideum is the author of 7 poetry collections, 1 short fiction book, and 2 books of essays. Though Kim Yideum is a part of Korean literary culture, she hates it. She runs a café and social space called Book Café Yideum.
Translator
Hedgie Choi is a fellow at the Michener Center for Writers.
Translator
Soeun Seo is a fellow at the Michener Center for Writers.
Translator
Jake Levine is an American translator, poet, and sometimes critic. He received both his B.A and M.F.A from the University of Arizona. He works as an assistant professor of Creative Writing at Keimyung University. His translation of Kim Kyung Ju’s I Am A Season That Does Not Exist In The World (Black Ocean 20015) was a finalist for the ALTA Lucien Stryk Prize for Translation.