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Again, I Will Call You My Muse Kim Hyesoon

Translated from the Korean by Don Mee Choi

Again, I will call you my muse
The life span of each muse varies, but they are always alive
Muses multiply by themselves, they even produce litters
I call out the names of my muses one by one

Empty-match-box muse. Chocolate-wrap muse. Already-read-newspaper muse. Toshiba-laptop muse. 2-kg-laundry-capacity-washing-machine muse. Cooked-rice-container-called-Elephant muse. There is no end to crumpling the foil muse and calling it affectionate names. One muse was friendly enough to come up to me wearing a name tag, even a family genealogy paper. Nature-made muse, man-made muse, muse that Mother packed for me when I married. Still that is not enough, so I buy new muses daily. Sometimes, when it is too expensive, I pay by the month. It was tiresome waiting for the muse to be delivered. Anyhow, there are life spans to the muses. Many muses died next to me regardless of whether I gave them a name or not. My autobiography buys new muses daily, and it can only note that it has abandoned the muses that have died nearly every day. The big muses are filled endlessly with little muses. Do dead muses also produce litters?

My house in which a rice-cooker muse nurtures a maggot muse in my absence
A muse lays a muse, lays, lays again
Must take the forked lane in order to enter the house full of muses
My house that becomes a heaven of muses when the street sweeper doesn’t come for ten days
My happy house in which my muses are left to fend for themselves—they glare at the opportunity to produce litters on the last day of the world

How about the collapsed-department-store muse? That place which became an embodiment of muses as soon as the store crumbled. At least a statue of a muse-goddess should be erected. The conversations of people crushed under the muses inside the collapsed store. A woman whose thigh is caught between metal rods on the 3rd floor of the basement endlessly pages her pager and calls home on her cell phone: “Hello, hello, I don’t think the phone is working….” I devote my life to washing, wiping, repairing, and ironing my muses. I discard the dead ones and take care of the live ones. I tidy them up, wash their faces, and hug them. I wonder if, someday, I might really become a muse myself, embraced by a muse. It is written on the back of the Choson- Daily muse, which arrived in the morning, that the entire world has proclaimed the wars and corpses of the muses. The muses that will become wild when I die, the whole house full of muses that will fiercely multiply even after they are dead. Despite all that, this afternoon, I engraved the following on the back of a one-eyed-computer muse:

When I moved, I abandoned
a blue-eyed-black-cat muse
because I heard that when a muse lives
with you for a long time it turns into a ghost
But after three days, my family saw
the black-cat muse fly up to the window
of our new house and cry all night long
The eyes of the cat muse gleamed ice-blue
intense enough to burn a hole through the glass
Even the new-fridge muse shook
with fear all night long