OBIT [Caretakers]

Caretakers—died in 2009, 2010, 2011,
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017,
one after another.  One didn’t show up
because her husband was arrested. 
Most others watched the clock.  Time
breaks for the living eventually and we
can walk out of doors.  The handle of
time’s door is hot for the dying.  What
use is a door if you can’t exit?  A door
that can’t be opened is called a wall. 
On the other side, glass can bloom.  My
father is on the other side of the wall. 
Tomatoes are ripening on the other
side.  I  can  see  them  through  the
window that also can’t be opened.  A
window that can’t be opened is just a
see-through wall.  Sometimes we’re on
the inside such as on a plane.  Most of
the time, we’re on the outside looking
in such as doggie daycare.  I don’t know
if the tomatoes are the new form of his
language or if they’re simply for eating. 
I can’t ask him because on the other
side, there are no words.  All I can do is
stare   at   the   nameless   bursting
tomatoes and know they have to be

More by Victoria Chang

OBIT [Memory]

Memory—died August 3, 2015.  The
death was not sudden but slowly over a
decade.  I wonder if, when people die,
they  hear  a  bell.   Or  if  they  taste
something sweet, or if they feel a knife
cutting them in half, dragging through
the flesh like sheet cake.  The caretaker
who witnessed my mother’s death quit. 
She holds the memory and images and
now they are gone.  For the rest of her
life, the memories are hers.  She said
my mother couldn’t breathe, then took
her last breath 20 seconds later.  The
way I have imagined a kiss with many
men I have never kissed.  My memory
of  my  mother’s  death  can’t  be  a
memory but is an imagination, each
time the wind blows, leaves unfurl
a little differently.

Mr. Darcy

Then we are in the back seat of a car kissing
           not the light kind but one where our
    hands are on each other’s cheeks holding
                 each other’s heads as if they will fall

off why does so much love come at the beginning
           then disappear then once again at the moment
      before death why can’t the same kind exist
                  in between in the breaths in the

afternoon in the sitting room in a place of costumes
            little girls dress like princesses one pink one
      blue one yellow they wear plastic heels because
                 they still think they will never fall

Dear P.

Someone will        love you     many will      love

you         many will brother you   some of these

loves will        bother you   some   will      leave you

one might        haunt   you      hunt you in your

sleep        make you       weep the tearless kind of

weep the         kind of weep   that drowns your

organs     slowly    there are little oars  in your body      

little boats   grab onto them and row and        row

someone will tell you      no       but you won’t   know

he is    right until you have   already        wrung your  

own heart dry    your hands dripping knives    until

you have    already   reached your hands into       his       

body and put them through his        heart     love is

the only thing that       is not    an       argument