Published on Academy of American Poets (

Between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, Today

I read a Korean poem
with the line “Today you are the youngest
you will ever be.” Today I am the oldest
I have been. Today we drink
buckwheat tea. Today I have heat
in my apartment. Today I think
about the word chada in Korean.
It means cold. It means to be filled with.
It means to kick. To wear. Today we’re worn.
Today you wear the cold. Your chilled skin.
My heart kicks on my skin. Someone said
winter has broken his windows. The heat inside
and the cold outside sent lightning across glass.
Today my heart wears you like curtains. Today
it fills with you. The window in my room
is full of leaves ready to fall. Chada, you say. It’s tea.
We drink. It is cold outside.


From A Cruelty Special to Our Species (Ecco, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Emily Jungmin Yoon. Used with the permission of Ecco.


Emily Jungmin Yoon

Emily Jungmin Yoon was born in Busan, Republic of Korea. She holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MFA from New York University. The author of A Cruelty Special to Our Species (Ecco Books, 2018), which was a finalist for the 2020 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, Yoon has received awards and fellowships from The Home School in Miami, Aspen Words, the Ron Offen Student Poetry Prize at the University of Chicago, Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and Sarah Lawrence College’s Summer Seminar for Writers, among others. In 2017, she received the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. She currently serves as the Poetry Editor for The Margins, the literary magazine of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and is a PhD student studying Korean literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago.


Date Published: 2018-10-01

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