Chance progression

Genomic drift

Split-apart generations
of the uprooted tree

abandoned the tablets for another ethos


never spoke of our ancestors

watching over through
the great-great-void

behind the incense and flowers

brought us here

In this quiet room
to learn from the old and make the new

Hakgojae 學古齋

Gallery, east of the Joseon
Palace of Shining Happiness

          young and old stroll in hanbok cosplay
          under full autumn sun

          coco capitán mirrors herself outside west gate

          fi lee inks the stillness rite on a Buamdong hill

          siren eun young jung channels the yeo-
          song gukgeuk with anomalous fantasies

her reinventions of the forgotten 1950s women’s theater, lost
memories performed through dance and song, her impulse


a practice of living art
as a dream of a living


          Drawn into the wood

                    across the sea of stone

one approaches
as if to recognize
the unexpected

spark and hesitation

double-track spotlights
on the five wood figures, octagon universe

They look out from the ghostly grain
of the tall tablet doorway, two-
and-a-half vertical planks, dark altar portrait
painted on wood, mounted pieces of wood
shades move in seasons, eyes in the tree
the eldest sits in a chair, painted white, cutout
          raised body, hanbok strips, mountainous roots
          dress floats past the doorway plane,
          head straight, her half-smiling face
the youngest sits cross-legged on the ground, brown dress,
          head tilts right, hair in a bun, gentle face anther ear,
          half-moon smile, her body curves beyond
          the door, strong hands cuddle a fuzzy white dog
above her in dusty red, she sits higher
          than the eldest, head tilts left, folded
          hands unpainted knot, side curls of hair,
          eyes bright lotus petals, line nose to brow
at the center the second eldest stands tallest, cutout head
          straight to collar, blouse white, a quarter of her face
          sliced clean against rings, her lower body unpainted
          wood wrinkles, waves, mouth small serious face
next to her in fading forest green she stands shorter
          behind the eldest, body cropped at the left
          shoulder down the door’s edge, head tilts right
          cutout wood piece to chest, oval face wavy hair

No figure whole, the youngest closest to wholeness
simplest gestures of line and ink, faces
manifest the inner essence
of the salvaged wood, pith to heart-
wood, sapwood dies to heartwood, spiral
mysteries, half-deities

                                        And behind them
                                                                the falls
                                        of a teal-blue curtain
                                        heaven-scent drifts
                                        earth pools on the floor
                                        in front of them, low

                                        wood hills, flat clouds
                                                      a rock, a flame

After the two hanji portraits framed on the walls
at the room’s entrance—preparatory or ancillary
to the wood incarnation—the same women posed
with variations, one interior: yellow umber backdrop
          brown ground, light yellow three-plank tablet tree
          rings swirl up twice as high behind them—
the other exterior: on a lotus field, they float
          on huge lotus leaves, self-cleansing lotus
          stems strong bud to flower, grow from mud
          into purity, summer family dreaming
          in a situation of oppression

          Vibrant minhwa colors of the people, pictures
anonymous artisans made for everyday dream
and longevity, happiness and harmony, springing out
from the literati and court tradition into ch’aekkori
“look at the shelves of books, paper, brushes,”
hwajodo flowers and birds, hodo tigers (smiling),
yongdo dragon on the front gate, kirin and dog, fish
and crab, rooster on the inner gate illuminates
the night, totemic decoy guards and protects

minhwa blessings
for the miraculous order of the universe


follow ancestors
through the changes

          nature’s renewal
source and being

hidden energies

through her We are
a matrilineal family

Yun Suknam

into the image
of the vision in the wood