Isle of the Dead, Arnold Böcklin, 1886

Heavy Snow, a Rented House, a Letter

Translated by: 
Jake Levine






Within an electric kettle the roar of waves seethed

For ages on the sea news couldn’t reac

the deaf boats seeking the sound of water sent from a faraway land

The eyes of a school of fish that pass through a deep abys

are frozen stiff, I thought.

From a distant lighthouse, fire spilt into this room

Whenever that happened, I bluely blotted my sea sickness down at the top of the page. 

Peonies from the quilt rolled over my leg 

and the words within the letters I wrote began to wake. 

Private lives that reached a critical state snowed heavily on the side of the page. 

Uncompleted letters turned to misery. 

Like bottles emptied one by one 

because the sad things disappeared, alone 

they swung a retired ship out of retirement 

and creakily returned. 

In their loneliness, more letters were burned. 

Like a furnace, the sea began to boil flakes of snow and 

if a hand were dipped under a hot tap inside a room 

inside the blood in the body, tears were silently bred. 

It cannot end like this, I thought – 

a mass extermination of inner life. 

Are there enough tears left in the insomniac’s body 

to descend into a dream? 

Although one by one snowflakes disguise the lights of a town 

there is love, love, on the side of the planet we can see 

here, undiscovered, infinity. We divvy up our shares.


For more poetry from Kim Kyung Ju and to read the rest of Issue 30, visit our eShop to take out a subscription or buy a print or digital copy.


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