The village was in tatters, smoking before it spoke,
shrapnel in a lung, a toothache in a guilty mouth.
There's something in the back of my mind I'd like
to remember, rubble there and a shovel for digging.
We stood in the deep muck for years. I wrote
love notes to nurse him back to health. If he dreamed
origami cranes I kept folding this paper inward
and inward until it bloomed and found velocity.
To get inside the earth's black center, I must have tools.
I must be alert and willful. I sat on the ground
to get down deeper, below kneeling, below bowing
and scramble, and boulder. And when you get that low,
you can mount the cry, the zero. What happened
in the marriage between the heart and its territory?
The tools were man-made, the tools worked slowly with labor.
The work was not without toil. When I found him there
face up, I put my mouth to his mouth, exhaled
for many years, my tongue waving like a flag.
Of Gods & Strangers
Four Way Books
Copyright © 2011 by Tina Chang
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission