Suk means rock, Su means water, and Dong means town.
Water comes down from the mountains where
temples hide in the forests.
Grey-gowned monks chant ghost secrets,
tap moktak at dawn.
Kun Sunim, Big Monk, shaved her head,
hid her breasts in robes and had a son.
She rented out rooms in the temple,
put meat in her dumplings—even pork—
but everybody bowed hop jang as she passed.
Near mountain temples, statues
of men and women offer their genitals
to childless couples. People come
to bow, touch statues’ songgi, and wait
for life to grow.
—Published previously in The War Still Within: Poems on the Korean Diaspora, available from KYSO Flash Press (November, 2019); appears here with author’s permission.
Bio: Tanya Ko Hong