To a dearly missed friend
Writing a letter in the handwriting of a friend who died at twelve.
Greetings. Friend. I still
Eat in the form of a man and
Think with the head of a man.
But today, I want
To loan myself to you.
Want to become a man who’s good at making a smile
With a smile that’s been frozen solid in a freezer for three years or so.
If you’d like,
You may even make a recording
In my voice.
Even if my hand moves awkwardly,
I trust that
You’d be able to write your story sufficiently.
I hope you’ll write back.
I like you
Like bowling pins tumbling down.
By Shin Hae-Wook
Translated, from the Korean, by Nancy Yeon-Joo Kim
Nancy Yeon-Joo Kim will graduate this year with a BA in Literary Translation from Swarthmore College. She has published a few articles, but this is the first time that her translated work has been printed. She aspires to translate Korean literature to make it well-known internationally.
Shin Hae-Wook (b.1974) is a Korean poet who has also published a collection of essays. She was voted the Young Poet of the Year in 2010 by her colleagues.