Ode to Anger
Soak in a hot bath; arrange my futuristic hair, then, the futon & the cushioned tatami. Cut orchids, cut fruit. Set the table for plenty, (but there is only one of me). And here you come— a cricket’s dance in the woods— in a fog-colored zoot suit. Your eyes are red & bleary. I am practicing good purity. I do not get angry. But here comes my father with the tiger’s claw. He paces and frets; I get no rest. The caged animal must be released. Here comes my mother with the serpent’s touch. I know the dim mak: the touch of death, I know the softness of the temples, the groin, the heart. Here come my sisters with the lizard’s tongue to expel the secret in a moment’s hiss. But they are slow on their haunches. I shall strike first. The weir-basket was a snare; the fish within were dying. You promised me fresh fish. You promised unconditional love and providence. Here comes my brother with the ox’s heart to explain the world in a plum’s pit. He is not your kind. You don’t understand his plight; nor does he your fomenting silence. Tiger’s claw, serpent’s touch, lizard’s tongue, ox’s heart. The caged animal is released. I believe in the touch of life. I shall keep my secret always. Although you have lost your way, you have never forsaken me. you have been whole. you have been good.
From Dwarf Bamboo. Copyright © 1987 by Marilyn Chin. Used with the permission of the author.