Illustration by Anne Le Guern

A house where no one lives
needs someone to draw it full of glass,
then smash that glass to bits.

Glass is clear
no matter what kind,
so filling it with fingerprints is fine,
or scribbling names over names,
or pressing to it lip upon lip.

Then just like that
the glass, impassive, will vanish.
The house again
shall fill with houseness.

In its air
our traces linger, teeming;
several layers of sighs resound,
and some single shattered shard
might well glint nearby.

And then if the tree to the side
oozes out a human soul —
carve its eyes, nose, lips bright into the bark.

Should you ask, Who is it?
I’ll tell you, It’s me.

from the collection Biologicity (2009)

Spencer Lee-Lenfield

Spencer Lee-Lenfield is an assistant editor at The Yale Review and a contributing editor at Harvard Magazine, as well as a PhD student in comparative literature at Yale. His writing and translations have appeared in publications including The Chronicle Review, Slate, and Colorado Review. He is currently working with Shin Hae-uk to finish a translation of her poetry collection Biologicity (2005).

Shin Hae-uk

Shin Hae-uk has been publishing since 1998, including the poetry collections 간결한 배치 (Precise Arrangement), 생물성 (Biologicity), syzygy, and 무족영원 (Caeciliendless); the essay collections 비성년 열전 (Lives of the Unadults) and 1인용 책 (Book for Just One); the novel 해몽전파사 (The Oneiroelectrical Shop); and 창밖을 본다 (Looking Out the Window), a hybrid work of essay and fiction. She won Korea’s Author’s Choice Emerging Poet Award in 2010.