In a society where emotional restraint is prized, interactions can all of a sudden grow stilted or become suffused with a great silence as disappointment sinks in. In these exemplary poems by Korean poet Byung-rul Lee, tone and imagery hint at the emotional tumult hidden underneath the surface.
Truly, an emotion the size of a single juice pack.
Something is stuck and will not come out.
A woman’s face full of the image of an afternoon garden,
sturdy roots of a tree growing through a wall,
a swarm of ants climbing up a pillar in lines,
that do not fall off or get brushed off, even when shaken.
The waist of a flower has accepted signs of death,
blood and murderous intent,
forearms holding up the breath of love
The hour hand blankly moves,
in spite of the dangling minute hand with a loose screw.
A metaphor hidden in the naked flesh of the picture.
I cannot give up this abyss.
If I wanted to hide it,
I would have to measure to see if I can take it out again.
As molten iron, once welded on, does not fall off,
this sadness, seared by fire, does not fall off.
Since it is my turn to step back a bit,
please, anybody, share some wine with my brothers.