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


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.

Credit


From Dwarf Bamboo. Copyright © 1987 by Marilyn Chin. Used with the 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: 1987-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/ode-anger