Sun Yung Shin

 


 

(RIOT POLICE)

 

This is you—Titanus giganteus, your maw snapping pencils in half and cutting through human flesh. My encyclopedia chokes on your bulk. My camera, timid, afraid to look, as if you're naked—not one adult male, but millions.

 

Few garments sound as fine as flak jacket, the best of the tagmata the thorax, more prime than brains as the body can keep mating, cracking its margins. Your shield like a wing, protects your bulletproof heart from the wind, your right arm black in the cloth of your brothers. Full face visor. Baby gladiator.

 

Beyond the screen, I memorize you—jawbone like a scandal reflecting all the thieves and beggars. Insect lord, insect mind. This is my fear. You look like my brother, my son. You could kill me with your looks.

 

 

 

 

(PYONGTAEK, U.S. MILITARY BASE EXPANSION)

 

A white neo-colonial house looks out onto the fields, limbless, no fingers to flute the rice, green and young. The sun like a pendant on a woman's neck, hanging above a fine gown.

 

They're wearing identical white raincoats, or nearly white, like hulled rice, which, if you hold it up to the light shows a touch of translucence. They can't win this though they lick the chain link wallpaper until their tongues grow rough as a cat's. The farmland already history, a museum, a field of graves. Future crop nothing but soldiers.

 

Too much salt in the soil, weeds and blood. A knife plunged into rind. Split open the second pumpkin, wicked brother, though the first yielded a host of goblins, drunk on your misfortune. You are what you are.

 

You never said you loved this. Money-takers and flames, your manor blackened to ash—yet still you kiss the bird's broken leg.

 


 


(MOUNTAIN, JIRISAN NATIONAL PARK)

 

Gifts crept to us and I made a crown of your mushrooms, a cape of fat slugs, a veil of spiders.

 

With each mouth-sound we stitched our skin to the face of the water, we made a blind, a blanket out of the backs of girls, black hair feathering the waves.

 

Here is where the maidens faded down from heaven, the hem of their dresses curtained the face of the hunter, the rag at his table, the sweep of his childlessness. It smells of mineral and leaf, of spiky puffs—bombs of seeds or the pine's punctuation.

 

Here, nothing fits to a man's hand but her, the youngest, fine to be first and last, least seen, the most to see.


 

 

 

(OUTSIDE THE GATE AT CAMP HUMPRHEYS, U.S. MILITARY BASE)

 

That tank is my wet nurse, my elephant mother, my protector and avenger. That soldier in pixels was the star of my video game last night. The sheets were wet with sweat—I want to win. I play in bed because there I can see all of you.

 

He wears my face during the day, camouflaged, goggles and compass, my hair between his teeth. I worry, worry. I sleep in his mouth…I am liquor and gag.

 


 

 

(BUDAE CHIGAE NEAR THE GI JI CHEON / "GARBAGE" STEW NEAR THE PROSTITUTION CAMPTOWN)

 

"You'll be taken first."                     (This girl is a classic beauty.)

"And you look like a minister."         (This man has a kind face.)

"You look like a fox."                       (I am a female ghost, a demon.)

 

Laugh, laugh—gold chain, and cigarette.

 

At least I am not the egg ghost, the woman with whose face is entirely blank.

 

At least I am not the maiden, buried before she could become a woman.

 

At least I am not the bone who was the maiden, waiting to be shown his finest treasure.

 

To be pissed on, to be brought to life. This folk tale.

 

The steam cleans my fox face. The stew smells like ham, hemul, and a boy's salt-stained neck.