Today's poem is by Tina Chang


On an island, an open road
where an animal has been crushed
by something larger than itself.

It is mangled by four o'clock light, soul
sour-sweet, intestines flattened and raked
by the sun, eyes still savage.

This landscape of Taiwan looks like a body
black and blue. On its coastline mussels have cracked
their faces on rocks, clouds collapse

onto tiny houses, and just now a monsoon has begun.
It reminds me of a story my father told me:
He once made the earth not in seven days

but in one. His steely joints wielded lava and water
and mercy in great ionic perfection.
He began the world, hammering the length

of trees, trees like a war of families,
trees which fumbled for grand gesture.
The world began in an explosion of fever and rain.

He said, Tina, your body came out floating.
I was born in the middle of monsoon season,
palm trees tearing the tin roofs.

Now as I wander to the center of the island
no one will speak to me. My dialect left somewhere
in his pocket, in a nursery book,

a language of child's play. Everything unfurls
in pictures: soil is washed from the soles of feet, a woman
runs toward her weeping son, chicken bones float

in a pot full of dirty water.
I return to the animal on the road.
When I stoop to look at it,

smells of trash, rotting vegetation,
the pitiful tongue, claws curled tight
to its heart; eyes open, eyes open.

When the world began in the small factory
of my father's imagination, he never spoke
of this gnarled concoction of bone and blood

that is nothing like wonder but just the opposite,
something simply ravaged. He would die soon
after the making of the world. I would go on waking,

sexing, mimicking enemies. I would go on coaxed
by gravity and hard science. While he rested in the satin
of his shriveled skin. Eyes swollen to exquisite planets.

Copyright © 2004 Tina Chang All rights reserved
from Half-Lit Houses
Four Way Books
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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