I was locked into a single seed, my future fathoming.
I was matter underwater and a sheer hoping,
when I latched to earth, a first withered bloom.
A sonic wonder, I sang about the future.
I was master of the oxen pulling me toward dawn,
an existence first in death, a state of stillness
before beginning, a middle earth of rain.
I wore many masks until the right one fit.
Then the storm passed and I was wakened by water.
I had stolen through the back door, eyed
two loaves of bread. In the life before this one,
I had seen the window, a greater reflection,
yeast in the tin rising fast. My wanting grew.
How does desire trump that? Perhaps desire
is what we know best when the heart
is listless but listening. I memorized my history
which was nothing short of gleaming disasters
repeated, just for me.
I fell into a patch of green which was earth's matter
and fell some more. I am a boy and found myself
between war and my own luck, startled myself
in goodness and in haste, made a fire and got to cooking.
Man: the most tender and incessant beast.
A flawed danger but no less beautiful. A prairie
where I walk for the first time, where I am the theory
of origin: my brain barks in the heat, my legs buckle
in the initial step, then a slow certainty, an engine
of progress. My ankles turn clockwise in the soil,
loosening root and worm, shaking free
from the tangle and what held me there.
I was never burned by anything that could touch me
and I sat in the imagined throne with spoonsful of red sugar
tasting the years ahead of me, wondering of the origin
of my mother. I think she is flame and quick step, glee
and ignition. I saw her hands once in a flash flood
pulling me awake, several claps and then I came alive
rising through the underbrush and cadence rumble,
then I breathed and found god's bone, cracked in pieces
in my throat and my own voice fused to answer back.
Copyright © 2012 by Tina Chang. Used with permission of the author.