Today's poem is by Jennifer Chang

Hunger Essay

Thou turnest thy face away,
all things tremble and grow cold.

                      —from Haydn's Die Schöpfung

He shows me a place in the forest
that sounds of creaking doors. The young ones

are growing. Each tree fights out
its earthwork. Branching around us, beneath us

they are an imbroglio of roots—
a chokehold chorus.

From trunk to trunk, we do
the strangle, we do the wicked pole-dance.

He loves the birch's bone-thin pallor
and I watch him match his limbs

to the scrawniest wood.
He will not embrace the wider trees.


Blue-eyed towhead throbbing with falsetto:
Teurer Gatte, dir zur Seite,
schwimmt in Frueden mir das Herz

He remembers our mother. I don't. She
was, he admitted, a weak soprano.
Dear husband, at thy side

my heart is bathed in rapture.
Blushing at rapture, he gestures, plays Mother's
Eve. Turns the duet solo, Adam gone

silent. Der Abendhauch. Because I won't
sing. Echoes the forest: the evening wind.


Every puddle rivers with desire.
Paltry pools palming a leaf

long to pond.
What is that like? To not fit

one's true shape.
To be less than. Today he pretends

we've run away. I want to
kick him in the shins.

I want to say
Father orphaned us

before his time. Father
would thin the forest

around our house, his axe
a second wife to marry.

His wife, an axe to bed. A stepmother.
I am a stepped child.

I am through
with chokecherries, through

with loam in my throat—
three weeks gone. Pussy-toed,

elegiac, he avoids the pools
and will not answer to Brother.


The Creation ends in love. He places
a hand on the well of my stomach, says
I am more hollow—his hand, a single

bone. We sleep on weather-brittle leaves, on
pine needles that fail to sting, and listen
to our bodies' private rumblings. We are

a thunder each. The Creation ends in
Alleluia! He fancies a garden
of cotton, a rock-sugar house that we'll

tear down with hunger. But where will we live?
We were born lost. The forest is our home.

Copyright © 2006 Jennifer Chang All rights reserved
from Barrow Street
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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