If I Could – Yoon Nam

Yoon Nam

If I could
By using only past tense
I would tell you precisely what happened.
While I punch and push to add anew
It will become long and old like something you can trust.
When my father took us on a trip to Jeju island when I was 13,
Though I can’t remember whether we took a boat or plane or my sisters wore make-up,
My Walkman was with me.
With my thin steel band headphone
Secured around my head
And the cassette player clipped on my belt,
I sat on a hillside near the sea
And looked down at my waist and pressed the play button and began.
“It is like in a movie,” I said to myself.
I really thought I was in a movie and could die here,
With this open beauty in front of me and my song playing in the background,
Like in a movie.

Is it unbelievable
I won’t remember much of what I say if it wasn’t like a movie?
After all
I intend my lines to hide
How I saw a greasy bar of soap drowning in a soap dish
Soiling and melting wide in distance
While I clamped on my Walkman
Under the moon that guzzled the sky:

How I saw myself die
As if I weren’t in a movie:
How the ever-during song lasted in my Walkman
Until the tape gave out, and since then
How I drag my feet when I say “good morning”:
And how a title of some song I liked when I was 13
Can begin a thought now
But can’t break my disposed fear
That this day again
Could have been
One of the many scenes I won’t remember
When I try to remember this one time I wrote about
That favorite song of mine when I was 13.

They say solitude might cure
Time too punctual
And help you ignore his voracious likelihoods.
But if nothing to rewind and play anew,
If no chance of observing small births,
Born afresh to run and stop, and run and stop again,
I am not only unable in myself
But by myself I am far more unable
To tune out and in, disperse and collect
The songs, the scenes, the words, the lines,
Like always,
What’s in a movie.

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