—at Haein Monastry
What I throw out to the world
is a silver thread, that thin line I throw.
After throwing out your line, you crouch
cunningly in a corner.
stand next to tall trees
with narrowed eyes.
With narrowed eyes
you wait for the spot of flesh
that will come riding a shadow.
We are all
a spot of warm flesh
or a shadow.
we wait with longing.
~ Kang Ŭn-gyo, trans. from Korean by Ann Y. Choi
Kang Ŭn-gyo (1945 – present) explores themes including life and death, equality, the individual and the collective, as well as public matters such as the oppression and persecution people experienced in the late 1960s. She was one of the first Korean women poets to represent women “existentially” by writing about their bodies, their wrinkles, their sal (flesh) — entities often invisible and silenced in the patriarchal culture of the time. Ultimately, her poetic and professional achievements demonstrate that women are not to be underestimated.
Ann Y. Choi was born in Seoul, and educated in Massachusetts and California. She is an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Ann Y. Choi’s translation of ‘Spider’ originally appeared in ‘Echoing Song: Contemporary Korean Women Poets’, ed. Peter H. Lee (White Pine Press, 2005). The editors wish to thank White Pine Press for generously granting permission to republish the translation here.