Pine Tree

Kim Ki-Taek

Even pine needles are broad, in their earliest stages.
Their present form, now sharpened and firmed,
Traces of the passing chill, creating openings between the leaves, thin slicing forks.
Traces of cold blood passing through reptiles' veins.

The pine needles stiffly turn erect in the bitter cold.
However much the weather warms, they never grow slack.
Like a tongue stretched long, the broad summer breeze,
Pricked and chafed by innumerable pine needles, turns a deep blue, then turns cool.

Even now, the aged pine tree shifts its bark, shredding and bursting its scales,
And rises, meandering into the empty sky.
Below, in the dark and cool earth,
Its roots, wriggling, entangled, crawling, innumerable.

Between sections of the thick bark, split and burst open,
Its clear and cold blood, the pine resin, flows outward.
In an act of penance, this high priest exposes fully the deep ravines of its ribs,
Which have ossified, stiff as semen, within itself.

translated from the Korean by Eun Joo Kim