Poetry / February 2009 (Issue 6)

Two Poems

by Ching-In Chen


Who said I wanted to go
while we four like plucked chickens waiting for the hangman
                                                                 stuffed into the box
                                                                 of the musty car
my mother peels the cold tea egg
                                             fermented overnight in a broth of soy sauce and
her thermos of brewed tea stands guard at her feet
plastic bag of discards and scraps
                                                        our leftover bits of fruitrot
brother and I groaning in the back seat
the long country of paved highway
clinical rest areas left behind for lonely trees battling with billboards
until the crunched little houses
                                                         blotting out the green
these structures of dinge may have been the promise my family looked for
one by one
they boarded the airplane
and all the breathing from each other's space

Kundiman for Those You Must Say Goodbye To

For those you carry
        turtles into the underbrush
your last love song
        when you walk through the shaded door
                   riding on the wings gently shut
the opening
         where you balance on your toes
hope your own fire will help you float
         and not drown you
will it be the time
you on the ledge
         who leave your country
                      the crossover of gravel and spit
         in the absence of fluttering song
who remember me if I take you a breath tucked in the bone of shoulder
who remember you but me

Editors' note: A review of Ching-In Chen's The Heart's Traffic: A Novel in Poems is available in issue #8 of Cha. 

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