The End of October

Poetry / Hyejung Kook

Dark mares of the moon—foaming, cold, nectar,
tranquility facing crises, fecundity—you are clearest
at first quarter, half-lit, songpyeon-shaped. Tonight
again the baby cried for the sight of you—he is
always crying for the moon or horses or apples—
fighting sleep, craning his neck up to stare
and stare, unblinking, little hands pressed against
the cold windowpane, but you were invisible behind
clouds and light rain. Halfway between Sanggang,
the fall of frost, and Ipdong, the onset of winter—
the harvest is done, the trees and grass yellowing.
I have no chrysanthemum wine, but the baby
left half an apple, the flesh still crisp and white.
Tonight at least I’ll sleep with sweetness in my mouth.

Hyejung Kook’s poetry has appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Verse Daily, the Beloit Poetry Journal, Hanging Loose, the Denver Quarterly, and elsewhere. A Fulbright grantee, she also has received a Kundiman fellowship and a Pushcart Prize nomination. Other works include an essay in The Critical Flame and Flight, a chamber opera libretto commissioned by composer Sarana Chou.