leave Buddha alone? We make Buddha ride an elephant like the way a village boy rides on a man’s shoulder, and we let Buddha run and play, then make him cry, and we make him couple blissfully with a buttery woman and call it Tantra, but then we make him smile by himself in emptiness, make him sit, lie down, make him be born from the waist, then teach him how to walk right away, and we question him when he lies down to sleep You said this and that didn’t you? and we braid his fingers, cut off his nose and swallow it down with water, then dress him in gold, but then we cut his throat and sell his head at a store in Insadong, and we lock him up inside a cave on top of a mountain, and as if that weren’t enough we keep him inside a rock, starve him, paint his skin gold so that he can’t even breathe, have him stand far away on top of a mountain and caress him slowly as we approach him by boat, and beneath his feet we beg him to beat us up. Why can’t we leave him alone? We build a house on a cliff overlooking a blue river and lock him up, and a bunch of us go together to gawk at him. We pummel him, crush him, and push him over, then we come home and write a letter of apology in blood from our pierced fingers, and we pull his teeth and divide them up into numerous pouches and give them out to the whole world, and why do we go near him and bow on our knees till they are raw and look once into his eyes then return home with our downcast faces?
Kim Hyesoon is a prominent South Korean poet who has received numerous prestigious literary awards. She teaches creative writing at Seoul Institute of the Arts. Translations of her poetry are available in When the Plug Gets Unplugged (Tinfish Press, 2005) and Anxiety of Words: Contemporary Poetry by Korean Women (Zephyr Press, 2006). Her next book of poems in translation, Mommy Must be a Fountain of Feather, is forthcoming from Action Books, 2008.
Don Mee Choi lives in Seattle. Her poems have recently appeared in Action Yes, Cipher, Fairy Tale Review, La Petite Zine, and Tinfish.