103 Korean Martyrs

Where was it that we went that night?
That long, low building: floodlights
rimmed in lavender, the moon ringed
in rose. I would rather, then, have stayed
 
outside, where spiderwebs glowed
like jellyfish in the damp yew hedges,
where the paths were chalky pebbles
set with giant stepping stones.
 
But the film was starting. In the air-
conditioned dark, a crowd of strangers,
strange families (not from our church)
in rows of metal folding chairs to see
 
a man quartered by horses: strain
stitched across his shining back
then, all over at once, an unraveling
and then the spill of meat;
 
a girl pushed through a doorway,
naked among soldiers:
she grew a dress to cover herself,
a blue dress with a blinding sash.


Monica Youn, “103 Korean Martyrs” from Barter. Copyright © 2003 by Monica Youn. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press, www.graywolfpress.org
Source: Barter (Graywolf Press, 2003)
More Poems by Monica Youn