poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this Poem 

"As I was writing 'Wonder Cabinet' I was concerned with space, confinement, and freedom. I wondered what we sought, in shelter, to contain/protect and what we sought to let go and release. The poem is an exploration of home, the memory of which is ultimately a construct of the mind."
—Tina Chang

Wonder Cabinet

Tina Chang, 1969

I opened the silver pronged evening and translated
the great song of the Industrial Age. Each night
I hoped it would tell a different ending. Each time
it sang a song, sadder than I would have imagined.

I heard it, not only when I put all my perspectives
away on shelves, until the shelves caved in.
What was left: a room with windows that looked out
and I interpreted the vast room that spoke of longing,

but mostly air. I consoled myself, heavy lidded,
I revealed myself to no one. I ached by the staircase.
I opened the cupboards and the refrigerator to let the cold in.
I walked with my bare feet dragging my lone body,

cold as milk as I kissed the bottomless depth, an ear
tuned toward the series of bells, wind tied to a tree.
And then the wind stopped. If I break
the many windows will the sea roil and foam?

I am consumed with houses and what may propagate
inside them. What longing lives there, breeds
redemption? An open door to the wide plain is not a metaphor.
I swing it open each day. I leave the old house.

Copyright © 2013 by Tina Chang. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on August 2, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Tina Chang. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on August 2, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Tina Chang

Tina Chang

Born in 1969, Tina Chang was a finalist for an Asian American Literary Award from the Asian American Writers Workshop for her debut collection Half-Lit Houses.

by this poet

poem
It is the smallest idea born in the interior will,

that has no fury nor ignorance,

no intruder but stranger, no scaffold of a plea,

no mote of the hungry, no pitchfork of instinct,

no ladder of pity, no carriage of lust,

no wavering foot on concrete, no parish of bees,

no mountains of coal, no limestone
poem
When everything was accounted for 
you rummaged through my bag to find 
something offensive: a revolver, 
a notebook of misinterpreted text. 

I'm God's professor. 
His eyes two open ovens.
He has a physical body
and it hiccups and blesses. 

Tell me a story before the mudslide, 
tell it fast before the house
poem
In every kind of dream I am a black wolf 
careening through a web. I am the spider 
who eats the wolf and inhabits the wolf's body.
In another dream I marry the wolf and then 
am very lonely. I seek my name and they name me 
Lucky Dragon. I would love to tell you that all 
of this has a certain ending but the