One winter I lived north, aloneand effortless, dreaming myselfinto the past. Perhaps, I thought,words could replenish privacy.Outside, a red bicycle frozeinto form, made the world falserin its white austerity. So muchhappens after harvest: the moonperforming novelty: slaughter,snow. One hour the sameas the next, I held my own handsor held the snow. I was like sculpture,forgetting or, perhaps, rememberingeverything. Red wings in the snow,red thoughts ablaze in the warI was having with myself again.Everything I hate about the worldI hate about myself, even nowwriting as if this were a lawof nature. Say there were deerfleet in the snow, walking outthe cold, and more gingkoesbare in the beggar’s grove. SayI was not the only one who sawor heard the trees, their diffidencegreater than my noise. Perhapsthe future is a tiny flameI’ll nick from a candle. First, I’m burning.Then, numb. Why must every wintergrow colder, and more sure?
“The World” (poem), from Some Say The Lark by Jennifer Chang, Alice James Books, 2017.
Copyright © 2017 by Jennifer Chang
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Jennifer Chang is the author of The History of Anonymity and Some Say the Lark, which was long-listed for the PEN Open Book Award and won the 2018 William Carlos Williams Award. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Baffler, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Poetry, and A Public Space, and her essays have appeared in Los Angeles Review of Books, New England Review, New Literary History and The Volta. An associate professor of English at George Washington University, she co-chairs the advisory board of Kundiman and also teaches in the Bennington Writing Seminars graduate writing program. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her family.
“Chang is fearless in taking on traditional notions of what poetry can do to the self and to the natural world.”
—Los Angeles Review of Books
"Some Say the Lark is a piercing meditation, rooted in loss and longing, and manifest in dazzling leaps of the imagination—the familiar world rendered strange."