Inside me, a family

“To walk in the world is to find oneself in a body without papers, not a citizen of anything but breath.”
           —Kazim Ali, Silver Road

born from small
waters. Each night,
I look for paper
to feed this first litter
from a slow continent.

New trappers buy
their fetters and hooks,
dreaming of new skin
to drape. In the sky, a wound

like river, opening up again
to bird. Neighborhood pushes
against seams, dislikes
a newcomer. This linked
to history and forgetting—
a new gray house like a weed.

A monument rises past the window. We sit and drink twice-steeped tea.


Copyright © 2021 by Ching-In Chen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 5, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote this poem after learning that there is abnormal growth inside my body, which led me to think of all the luminous and strange things I may be unaware of which might live inside me. The poem opens up to speculate about the larger landscape that I walk across every day, marking both my own growing awareness of mortality and lineage as well as inevitable change in landscape and time.”
Ching-In Chen