Sun Yung Shin was born in Seoul, South Korea and grew up in Chicago. Her collection of poems Skirt Full of Black explores the Korean-American experience. She’s also the co-editor of Outsiders Within: Writings on Transracial Adoption, and author of Cooper’s Lesson, a bilingual Korean/English illustrated book for children. She lives in Minneapolis. You can find out more about her and her work here.
It was to be a permanent set, with permanent players
Take my hand and look, look at the costumes
pretending to be real clothes
No one had told them
Now here is a wool coat with no shoulders
Pinholes of army green
Punctuation with no words
A silk tie but no neck
An oven but no roast
Tea waits forever in its canister to release its perfume
Here is the roll of tickets
Pretending to be useful money
Here is the fruit from this, its own country
Its flesh still stippled as if painted
Here are the flies jewelling the windowsill
Imitating the necklace and earrings nestled in a box inlaid with mother-of-pearl
And look, child, here on the dining room table,
Can you just see?
Plates still around, like blind mirrors, like four open mouths—o
— “The House” in Skirt Full of Black, by Sun Yung Shin (Coffee House Press, 2007). Reprinted with permission from Coffee House Press.
Have a Minnesota poet or poem you’d like to recommend? Feel free to send your ideas my way.