“A Girl and the Moon”

A Poem by Lee Young-Ju, Translated by Jae Kim

December 17, 2021  By Lee Young-Ju, translated by Jae Kim

Mid-night, swinging upside down on a pull-up bar, the girl says, Mother, this bone growing on my back, white in the night, protruding out of my skin, long and endlessly this bone, like a ladder it shoots up in the air, whenever hot wind sweeps past, whenever blind birds drop by, whenever suspicious air weaves in and out of this bone, the pain is unbearable, let me down from the pull-up bar, let me down and saw it off, it grows thicker each night, this, this, it renders white light whiter, anemic, before I become a grave for the bone, please, cut it off, quickly, in my body black bones clatter, joint by joint fluids are drying, it chose my back as its host, before the grains of light pile on and split the grave in half, before putrid craters start to multiply, before this bone drags my emptied body to the back of the sun, let me down from the pull-up bar, saw it off, Mother, please, a crescent moon is lodged in a girl’s back, a flat bone will grow into a round and bright celestial body, the girl upside down on a pull-up bar will vanish into the moon, and they say that, once the moon gobbles them up, girls leave behind black bones filling every inch of the night sky,


 Lee Young-ju, Cold Candies

“A Girl and the Moon” is excerpted from Cold Candies by Lee Young-Ju, translated by Jae Kim. Reprinted with permission of Black Ocean. 

Lee Young-Ju, translated by Jae Kim
Lee Young-ju is the author of four poetry collections. Her work has received support from the Arts Council of Korea and the Seoul Foundation for the Arts and Culture. She is also an essayist and a playwright. She lives in Seoul, South Korea.
Jae Kim is a fiction writer and a literary translator. He received his BA from Princeton University and MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, where he’s currently pursuing a PhD in comparative literature. A National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, he translates contemporary South Korean poetry by women, alongside early twentieth-century works from Korean and Japanese.

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