Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Bamboo, the Dance

How free and lush the bamboo grows, the bamboo grows and grows
Shoots and morasses, fillies and lassies and shreds and beds and rows
O phloem and pistil, nodes and ovules
The bamboo grows and grows
Her release, her joy, her oil, her toil, her moxie, her terror, her swirl
Dig deeper into soil, deeper into her soul, what do you find in my girl
Thrash of black hair and silken snare, face in the bottom of the world
Bound by ankles, poor deer, poor sow, O delicate hooves and fascicles
Dead doe, dead doe, dead doe
Wrists together, searing red tethers, blood draining from her soles
O choir, O psalm, O soaring fearsome tabernacle
The bamboo grows, the bamboo grows and grows
Through antlers and eyeholes, O sweet soul, O sweet, sweet soul

Thin green tails, purple entrails, the bamboo grows and grows
She flailed and wailed through flimsy veils, through bones and hissing marrow
Nobody to hear her, but wind and chaff, a gasp, then letting go
They loved her, then stoned her, buried her near her ancestors
My mother, my sister, my soul

Shimmering mesh, a brocade sash, hanging on a distant oracle
Springboks dance on shallow mounds, echoes, echoes, echoes

Credit


From A Portrait of the Self as Nation: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2015 Marilyn Chin. Used by permission of the author.

Author


Marilyn Chin

Marilyn Chin was born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon. The author of six poetry collections, she currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Date Published: 2018-04-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/bamboo-dance