translated by SO LEE


I was born but somehow you were born too. From one to two. We crumple ourselves into the cramped stroller.

We use the same school uniform, man, room. 

Sister, the doctor says I should do whatever I want. So Sister, I’m going to call you you from now on. Because I love you, I’m going to call you you. Let’s be real, you don’t deserve to be called a big sister, my little sister says, peeling the apple with a knife. It’s the last apple, so you better finish it. Little sister points the knife at me as she peels the apple. Crunchcrunch she eats the apple. 

I slit little sister’s wrist for her. Mom says you just slept while you were inside her like it was a grave. I slit little sister’s wrist again. Hush little baby. You’re prettiest when you sleep. I put her to sleep on her stomach. I put her to sleep, pulling the blanket to the top of her head. How cramped how cramped the night is. From one to two. From one to two.

Lee Soho (b. 1988) studied creative writing at the Seoul Arts University and earned an MA in Korean literature from Dongguk University. She made her debut winning the Newcomer Award in Modern Poetry in 2014. She won the Kim Su-young Literary Award, the highest poetry honor in Korea, with her first collection Catcalling in 2018. The judges deemed it, out of 237, “the only entry that demonstrates the intense energy of why the poem had to be written.” 

So J. Lee is a translator and the creator of chogwa, a quarterly e-zine featuring one Korean poem and multiple English translations. Their translation of Lee Hyemi’s “Unexpected Vanilla” has appeared in Words Without Borders, Modern Poetry in Translation, Korean Literature Now, and Asymptote, while their translation of Heo Su-gyeong’s “Time of Bronze, Time of Potatoes” is forthcoming in Two Lines.