Minnesota Poetry: Sun Yung Shin’s “The House”

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.

The House

It was to be a permanent set, with permanent players

A serial

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.

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