Tonight the poet and the glamour girl decide to go on a hike. The first part of the trail is flat. The poet is used to easy hikes, but the trail gets rockier as she climbs up. She slips, slides. Behind the poet, the glamour girl snorts, Ha you can’t even handle such a short climb. The poet gets more out of breath as she climbs up higher. The breathing of the two is wildly out of sync. The poet nags for a rest. The glamour girl is getting hot, so she briskly takes off the navy blue sky. Then she asks, Are you cold? Are you cold? and bites the poet’s frozen ears. This mountain must have no compassion, compassion, says the poet wanting to put down her heart, which is about to burst, but the trail keeps getting steeper, and the glamour girl who is more experienced urges on the poet who is out of breath, Don’t put down your heart yet! If we go back down now it’s worse than not having come up at all. The two stop arguing and watch the wrinkled ridge run up gasping – it must have burst open a spring. The two make nice and drink the spring water. They drink some and spill some. The water spreads. It freezes under their feet till the ground becomes slippery. Now the poet is totally exhausted, Getting to the summit is too much, a mountain can’t be swallowed in a single gulp, and the rhythm of my breathing and walking is out of sync, so this can’t become a poem. But the glamour girl who has been memorizing all the shapes of the valleys says, Why give up now when the view is so fantastic? Then she unties the sun’s belt unrolling it. The sunset gets released at the corner of the sky and the three temples with ThreeThousandBuddhaEnshrinementCommemorationAllNightThreeThousandBowsDevotionalPrayer written on them suddenly float up inside the poet’s panting. Tinkle tinkle – the sound of the landscape, as the poet embraces the glamour girl and cries her eyes out. We have reached the lit temples, the poet is moved, moved. Regardless, the glamour girl closes her eyes and lets her hands relax and says, There’s still the ThreeThousandBows to do, and bites into the poet’s neck.
From Modern Poetry in Translation (2012)
Translated by Don Mee Choi