This house will last forever

In one of the reviews for the 2003 debut collection from Suji Kwock Kim (1969-), the poet Edward Hirsch writes, “I am deeply moved and instructed by Suji Kwock Kim’s brilliant debut collection, which moves fluently between the living and the dead, the Korean past and the Asian American present. NOTES FROM THE DIVIDED COUNTRY is a heartfelt, blood-soaked work of flights and explorations, of personal probings and historical exposures, of suffering and responsibility, of tribute and witness, of American soul-making.” 

Today, I share with you just one of Kim’s powerful, heartfelt poems.



The soldiers
are hard at work
building a house.
They hammer
bodies into the earth
like nails,
they paint the walls
with blood.
Inside the doors
stay shut, locked
as eyes of stone.
Inside the stairs
feel slippery,
all flights go down.
There is no floor:
only a roof,
where ash is falling—
dark snow,
human snow,
thickly, mutely
Come, they say.
This house will
last forever.
You must occupy it.
And you, and you—
And you, and you—
Come, they say.
There is room
for everyone.