I wrote this poem back in the late 90’s and I just recently took another look at it, changing a few things, tweaking it here and there. It’s a poem that reminds me of cold Seoul mornings on my way to teach at ELS when I first arrived in Korea in 1990.


Somewhere in a Seoul morning


Squatting by a rust-red tub,
she works blood-red paste—
made from ground red pepper,
garlic and fish sauce—
with short, arthritic fingers
through steaming
cabbage leaves
in the bitter cold
of an empty November morning
beneath the bluish haze
of a shivering city.