Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Kim Yideum

VINTAGE SOUL

This is not a camera, it's a brick. After I opened the box, I found half a brick. I can’t believe it. A clean brick. I try to ask why a brick, not a Polaroid camera, but the seller is off the grid. I met him on an online secondhand store. He said he'd sell a camera, good as new, half the price and that he’d throw in ten packs of film too.

I clench the brick. Try shaking it. I take the brick and set out from home. I'm not sure yet whether I should go to the police office or to the invoiced address.

Dimly, the darkness spreads. It's a normal evening. It's a day I've lived over and over, hundreds of times and hundreds more. This is ridiculous. Rage rising out of control, but this is the ten thousandth scam case. All the same. Petty shams are the life. One time, trading donkey leather for flour, I got in a fight and nearly died, stabbed by a knife. And that other time, I got a couple gold coins but didn’t send the papyrus.

I was the one who laid the bricks for that church. A slave who used to bake bricks in Egypt, I probably died when a pile of bricks collapsed on me. Who knows who I might have been? A merchant tortured at a cogwheel for hustling, a sacrifice thrown down the Congo river, a laborer who drew caricatures with charcoal beside a cathedral atop a hill, a whore who wore leaves on her genitals, lying on a grass field, waiting for passersby.

My soul is secondhand. Like a red sweater from a collection box, it’s a soul whose elbows are worn out, again and again. It's a memory someone shipped but forgot to seal. It's dust, suddenly surging up from the sea or rolling down a volcano.

Sometimes I think of a marvelous phrase for the first time, but the phrase is a sentence I already carved into a stone when I grew bored baking bricks in the desert. When I go somewhere for the first time, I feel like I’ve lived there before. I have no first times, but every moment is a surprise like a first time for me.

I know why you left. I know the difference between sorrow and sadness. I know why that person in the corner stares as he passes. I’ve been through the same thing thousands of times. Even in this situation, when the brick comes to me, I lost my interest to rage.
But my memory falls short of absent-mindedness. I am doubtful. I made the payment in advance before I received the camera. Again, I trusted man. Fortunately, my soul is like a bug that only crawls out after the pesticide is sprayed. So, as if my soul doesn’t exist, I will love someone again.

VINTAGE SOUL

Geen camera, maar een baksteen. Maak ik de doos open, zit er een halve baksteen in. Ik kon het nauwelijks geloven. Een verse baksteen. Ik wil weten waar mijn polaroidcamera is en hoezo deze baksteen, maar de verkoper is onbereikbaar. Ik heb hem via een webwinkel ontmoet. Hij zou me een zo goed als nieuwe camera verkopen voor de helft van de prijs en ik kreeg er zelfs tien pakjes film bij.

Ik houd de baksteen stevig vast. Schud hem voorzichtig heen en weer, neem hem mee en loop naar buiten. Zonder te weten of ik naar het politiebureau of naar het afzendadres op de pakbon moet gaan.

Wazige duisternis verspreidt zich. Het is een doodnormale avond. Ik heb deze dag al talloos vaak beleefd. Het slaat nergens op. Woede drijft me tot waanzin, want dit is op zijn minst de tienduizendste keer dat ik wordt opgelicht. Op exact dezelfde manier. Het leven is een aaneenschakeling van banale oplichterij. Ooit ruilde ik bloem voor ezelsleer en legde ik bijna het loodje tijdens de steekpartij die volgde. Een andere keer ontving ik mijn gouden munten, maar ik stuurde de papyrusrol nooit op.

Deze baksteen heb ik met eigen handen in de buitenmuur van een kerk gelegd. Ooit bakte ik bakstenen als slaaf in het oude Egypte totdat er een muur instortte en ik waarschijnlijk onder een stapel bakstenen aan mijn einde ben gekomen. Ik kan iedereen zijn geweest. Een koopman die wegens fraude werd geradbraakt, een brandoffer dat in de Kongo werd gedumpt, een arbeider die op een heuvel naast een kathedraal houtskoolkarikaturen tekende, een prostituee die met wat bladeren voor haar geslacht in het gras ging liggen, wachtend op een voorbijganger.

Mijn ziel is tweedehands. De ellebogen door en door versleten, als van een rode trui uit een textielcontainer. Een herinnering die iemand onverzegeld op de post heeft gedaan. Een stofwolk die plotseling uit de zee oprijst of uit de mond van een vulkaan naar beneden stroomt.

Soms komt er voor het eerst een geweldige zinsnede in me op, maar juist die zinsnede heb ik in steen gebeiteld toen ik het beu was om in de woestijn bakstenen te blijven bakken. Als ik ergens voor het eerst kom, lijkt het of ik er al eens heb gewoond. Voor mij geen eerste keren, maar ik verwonder me elk moment opnieuw, min of meer voor het eerst.

Ik weet waarom je wegging. Ik ken het verschil tussen pijn en verdriet. Ik weet waarom iemand me aanstaart als hij me passeert. Ik heb het al honderden keren meegemaakt. Zelfs nu, wanneer de baksteen arriveert, legt de interesse het af tegen de woede.

Maar mijn geheugen verliest het van vergeetachtigheid. Ik twijfelde en deed een aanbetaling voordat ik de camera ontving. Opnieuw vertrouwde ik de mensheid. Gelukkig is mijn ziel als een stuk ongedierte dat alleen naar buiten kruipt als er met pesticiden wordt gespoten. En dus, alsof er niets gebeurd is, zal ik opnieuw van iemand houden.

빈티지 소울

카메라 대신에 벽돌입니다 상자를 여니 벽돌 반 장이 나왔어요 믿을 수 없지만 깨끗한 벽돌입니다 왜 폴라로이드 카메라가 아니라 벽돌인지 물어보려고 해도 연락두절이네요 인터넷 중고 시장을 통해 연결된 그 사람은 필름 10팩까지 끼워 거의 새것과 다름없는 카메라를 반값에 팔겠다고 했죠

힘주어 벽돌을 쥐고 흔들어봅니다 벽돌을 챙겨 들고 집을 나섭니다 경찰서로 갈지 택배 송장에 적힌 주소지로 가야 할지 아직 모르겠어요

희미하게 어둠이 퍼져갑니다 보통 저녁입니다 골백번의 골백번 더 살아본 날입니다 어이없고 참을 수 없이 분노가 치밀지만 똑같은 사기 사건도 수십만번쨉니다 사소한 사기가 삶이었지요 예전엔 나귀 가죽하고 밀가루를 교환하다 시비가 붙어 칼에 찔려 죽을 뻔했습니다 금화 몇 닢 받은 후 양피지를 보내지 않은 적도 있고요

저 교회 벽돌도 내가 붙였습니다 나는 오래전 애급에서 벽돌을 구워내던 노예, 무너지던 벽돌 더미에 깔려 죽었겠지요 나는 사기 치다가 걸려 톱니바퀴에서 고문당하던 상인, 콩고 강 하류에 던져진 번제물, 언덕 꼭대기 대성당에서 목탁으로 모작을 그리던 인부, 들판에서 나뭇잎으로 성기만 가리고 누워 행인을 기다리는 창녀였을지 모릅니다

내 영혼은 중고품입니다 수거함에서 꺼낸 붉은 스웨터처럼 팔꿈치가 닳고 닳은 영혼입니다 누군가 미처 봉하지 못하고 떠나보낸 기억입니다 불현듯 바다에서 솟아올랐거나 화산에서 흘러내린 먼지입니다

때때로 나는 처음으로 근사한 말을 떠올리지만 그 문장은 이미 내가 사막에서 벽돌을 굽다 지루해서 돌 위에 새겼던 말입니다 어딘가 처음 가보아도 언젠가 꼭 와서 살았던 곳 같습니다 내게 처음은 없지만 매 순간 처음처럼 화들짝 놀랍니다

당신이 왜 떠났는지 압니다 비애와 슬픔의 차이도 알고 저 모퉁이에서 걸어오던 사람이 왜 나한테 눈을 흘기고 가는지도 압니다 똑같은 일을 수십만 번 겪었으니까요 벽돌이 내게 온 이 상황에 대해서도 분개할 만한 일종의 흥미를 잃었습니다

하지만 건망증에 미달하는 기억력 때문에 나는 자신이 없습니다 카메라를 받기도 전에 선입금했고 또다시 사람을 믿었습니다 다행히 내 기억은 내 영혼은 약을 쳐야 기어 나오는 벌레 같아서 마치 없는 것처럼 또다시 누군가를 사랑할 것입니다

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VINTAGE SOUL

This is not a camera, it's a brick. After I opened the box, I found half a brick. I can’t believe it. A clean brick. I try to ask why a brick, not a Polaroid camera, but the seller is off the grid. I met him on an online secondhand store. He said he'd sell a camera, good as new, half the price and that he’d throw in ten packs of film too.

I clench the brick. Try shaking it. I take the brick and set out from home. I'm not sure yet whether I should go to the police office or to the invoiced address.

Dimly, the darkness spreads. It's a normal evening. It's a day I've lived over and over, hundreds of times and hundreds more. This is ridiculous. Rage rising out of control, but this is the ten thousandth scam case. All the same. Petty shams are the life. One time, trading donkey leather for flour, I got in a fight and nearly died, stabbed by a knife. And that other time, I got a couple gold coins but didn’t send the papyrus.

I was the one who laid the bricks for that church. A slave who used to bake bricks in Egypt, I probably died when a pile of bricks collapsed on me. Who knows who I might have been? A merchant tortured at a cogwheel for hustling, a sacrifice thrown down the Congo river, a laborer who drew caricatures with charcoal beside a cathedral atop a hill, a whore who wore leaves on her genitals, lying on a grass field, waiting for passersby.

My soul is secondhand. Like a red sweater from a collection box, it’s a soul whose elbows are worn out, again and again. It's a memory someone shipped but forgot to seal. It's dust, suddenly surging up from the sea or rolling down a volcano.

Sometimes I think of a marvelous phrase for the first time, but the phrase is a sentence I already carved into a stone when I grew bored baking bricks in the desert. When I go somewhere for the first time, I feel like I’ve lived there before. I have no first times, but every moment is a surprise like a first time for me.

I know why you left. I know the difference between sorrow and sadness. I know why that person in the corner stares as he passes. I’ve been through the same thing thousands of times. Even in this situation, when the brick comes to me, I lost my interest to rage.
But my memory falls short of absent-mindedness. I am doubtful. I made the payment in advance before I received the camera. Again, I trusted man. Fortunately, my soul is like a bug that only crawls out after the pesticide is sprayed. So, as if my soul doesn’t exist, I will love someone again.

VINTAGE SOUL

This is not a camera, it's a brick. After I opened the box, I found half a brick. I can’t believe it. A clean brick. I try to ask why a brick, not a Polaroid camera, but the seller is off the grid. I met him on an online secondhand store. He said he'd sell a camera, good as new, half the price and that he’d throw in ten packs of film too.

I clench the brick. Try shaking it. I take the brick and set out from home. I'm not sure yet whether I should go to the police office or to the invoiced address.

Dimly, the darkness spreads. It's a normal evening. It's a day I've lived over and over, hundreds of times and hundreds more. This is ridiculous. Rage rising out of control, but this is the ten thousandth scam case. All the same. Petty shams are the life. One time, trading donkey leather for flour, I got in a fight and nearly died, stabbed by a knife. And that other time, I got a couple gold coins but didn’t send the papyrus.

I was the one who laid the bricks for that church. A slave who used to bake bricks in Egypt, I probably died when a pile of bricks collapsed on me. Who knows who I might have been? A merchant tortured at a cogwheel for hustling, a sacrifice thrown down the Congo river, a laborer who drew caricatures with charcoal beside a cathedral atop a hill, a whore who wore leaves on her genitals, lying on a grass field, waiting for passersby.

My soul is secondhand. Like a red sweater from a collection box, it’s a soul whose elbows are worn out, again and again. It's a memory someone shipped but forgot to seal. It's dust, suddenly surging up from the sea or rolling down a volcano.

Sometimes I think of a marvelous phrase for the first time, but the phrase is a sentence I already carved into a stone when I grew bored baking bricks in the desert. When I go somewhere for the first time, I feel like I’ve lived there before. I have no first times, but every moment is a surprise like a first time for me.

I know why you left. I know the difference between sorrow and sadness. I know why that person in the corner stares as he passes. I’ve been through the same thing thousands of times. Even in this situation, when the brick comes to me, I lost my interest to rage.
But my memory falls short of absent-mindedness. I am doubtful. I made the payment in advance before I received the camera. Again, I trusted man. Fortunately, my soul is like a bug that only crawls out after the pesticide is sprayed. So, as if my soul doesn’t exist, I will love someone again.

Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
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