Poem 124 ± October 6, 2015

Kristin Chang

my mother says there is only one way out of china and
that is through god. god opens her mouth & rivers patter out

like children in the night. children in the night spotting the street
like a skin. children in the night & our veins neon & opened

longways, our hands shuttered over our chests. a scent in the air
like incense or blood, isn’t that what they tried first, horseblood,

AiNing, hibiscus, ginger, horsefat, xiaomi, my mother tongued
every leaf til she grew a tree from her mouth & it stabbed the sky red

& the wound was the sound of a wingbeat. every night heat rose off
her body like birds, she carried her tongue like a blade & dreamt

every night of the baby she never fed. every window
a soft mouth & flickering tongue, pink as a fish,

hunger hard and glittered as a pebble understream. Wasn’t that
what came next, swimming & ginseng, silt swallowed off the river,

prayer: the future tense of our bones
still dust. my mother sits in a lap

of water, says women ruin the world. says
this is what he told me. says every day she

dreamed of the sun rousing in the night, that light,
so light I bobbed in her arms.

Kristin ChangKristin Chang is 17, lives in California, and spends her summers in China. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in BOAAT, Powder Keg, Winter Tangerine Review, Word Riot, and elsewhere.

This poem is not previously published.