I chewed into the wreck of the world,
into the neckbone of the past that pursued me.
All the while, I moved toward extinction,
bearing the burden of damage, language of the protector.
A great apocalyptic wheeze adorned me with sand.
I foraged, first to find light dappling the leaves,
then breathed into an infinite power, feminine rust,
a coppery taste of salvage, leading me into a canopy
of the future. My mother was a mother of mothers,
modern before she was ancestral.
She was a woman who morphed into feline, back
to her human self before I woke each morning.
I lived not to sate my appetite but to crush it.
On my haunches, I craved what could not be seen.
I am desire. I am survival.
I sit under the tree waiting for hunger.
Copyright © 2022 by Tina Chang. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 30, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.