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While the Neat Freak Goes to Wash

결벽증 남자가 씻으러 간 사이
by Yideum Kim
Translated from Korean by
Hedgie Choi & Soeun Seo & Jake Levine
Issue 30 Online Exclusive

네가씻으러들어간후나는거울을본다천천히옷을벗는다거울을본다지나칠정도로선명하게직시하는거울을피해침대모서리로가웅크렸다거울을본다일어나주방으로간다거울을본다냉장고를열고물을마신다거울을꺼내본다

네가먼저씻으러들어간사이난라디오를켜고창밖을바라보지않는다쇠락해가는거리를물끄러미보지않고거울을본다

아직멀었어?
비누칠하고있어

나는네시계를보고네안경을껴보고네휴대전화를열어본다옷장을열고가지런히걸린흰색와이셔츠를세어본다뭐해?
수염깎으려고

헤아릴수없는균때문일까말할수없는심리적불결때문일까비누에묻은비누때문에씻고또씻는걸까그래씻어씻어라하나도남김없이얼굴이없어지고형태가뭉개질때까지

나는커피를마신다책장에서책을꺼내읽는다이것들은마음대로꽂힌게아니다무서운질서와배열속에서책가위한책을읽는다서문이길다다시커피를마시려다맥주를마신다넘쳐흐르는

나는발가벗고나는비스듬히나는수치심도없이나는반쯤넋을놓고나는누드해변에서나는위생학과예방의학이따위책을집어던지고나는불순하게더더욱음란하게

나는쓴다쓴다쓴다네가씻는것처럼

야, 씻었어?
아니, 비누가씻기지않아, 수압도약해

넌나오지못할거야문고리를쥐면또씻어야하니까내게접근할뿐만지지않겠지너는씻는다멈추고싶지만씻고씻고씻으면서오염되고죽어가고또씻는다시도때도없이

서로의바깥에서,한평생, 그런게남았다면,너는씻고나는쓴다,찢고다시쓴다,문하나를사이에두고,둘다거울앞에서죽을거면서

서로가나타나지않기를기다리며,강박적으로

After you go to wash, I look in the mirror. I undress slowly and look in the mirror. Avoiding the mirror’s too-clear stare, I crouch at the corner of the bed. I look in the mirror. I go to the kitchen. I open the fridge and drink some water. I take out a mirror and look.

 

You went in to wash first. While you wash I turn on the radio and don’t look out the window. I don’t gaze vacantly at the dilapidating street. I look in the mirror.

 

How much longer?
I’m still soaping up.

 

I stare at your watch, try on your glasses and open your phone. I go in the closet and count your dress shirts, white, neatly hung.

 

What are you doing?
Just gonna shave up.

 

Is it because of infinite germs? The unspeakable psychological filth? Is it because of the soap stuck to the soap that you wash, wash, rewash? Go ahead, wash until there’s nothing left. Until your face is gone and your shape is squashed.

 

I drink coffee. I take a book from the shelf and read it. No book is placed haphazardly. I read the jacketed books, scarily lined up, categorized, sequenced. The prologues are lengthy. I was going to drink coffee again, but I drink beer instead. Overflowing.

 

I’m naked. Askew. Shameless. Half zoned-out, at a nude beach, I throw out books about shit like hygiene and preventive medicine. Sluttily, impurely,

 

I write I write I write
just like you wash.

 

Jesus, you finished?
No… the soap won’t come off. The water pressure is weak.

 

You’ll never get out. If you grab the doorknob, you’ll have to wash again. You’ll approach me, but you won’t touch. You wash. You want to stop. But you wash and wash and as you wash you become contaminated, you start to die. You wash again. Without end.

 

A lifetime outside of each other. If anything is leftover, you wash and I write. I tear it up. Write it again. With only a door between us, though we are both going to die in front of a mirror anyway,

 

waiting for each other to not appear, compulsively.

 

___

 

Kim, Yideum. “While the Neat Freak Goes to Wash” 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.