**content warning: death**
With a stone in his coat pocket, the doctor,
Following a manual on treating those whose words
Float slowly past their teeth like icebergs at night,
Stuffed the patient’s cheeks with stones to keep
His mouth open and opened his white scissors.
Water flowed from the patient’s moan, spilling
Down to a pool where the bodies were disposed
Bound to the stones they’d been stoned with.
One of the bodies had another kind of manual,
Filled with long recipes of potions granting love.
After drowning this body, the killers swallowed
The body’s concoction because it was sweet,
Then dived after the drowned till they learned its depth.
The doctor played with the patient’s tongue
The way the body’s hand had kept slipping away.
The patient eventually slipped out of his sleep
And was given a board and a pen but no mirror
And realized he could only hum to himself
And his humming had no words that could be
Written down for memory on a white slab, which
Was a stone from a quarry, where earth was being cut
To meet the demand for surfaces to write on
Since the trees were lost. The quarry’s dust rose
And floated down like snow. The pen’s nib got
Clogged with ice. As it snowed on, the patient
Gathered his falling white hair and made a brush,
And dipped its tip into the pool, and on a piece
Of a coat cut out with the scissors he had stabbed
The doctor with, drew the body’s words. Now, bring
The cloth near a fire, and stay. Their shapes will
Rise like map’s lines traced with lemon juice ink.
Where the X marks the spot is a frozen lake.
It will look like the stone you are holding.
About the Author
Jack Jung is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Truman Capote Fellow. His translations of Korean poet Yi Sang’s poetry and prose are published in Yi Sang: Selected Works by Wave Books. He currently teaches at Davidson College.