“invention” by Tina Chang

For National Poetry Month today, here’s a beautifully grotesque poem by Tina Chang.

Invention

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 watchful, savage.

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

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 childsplay. 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

it smells of trash, rotting vegetation,
the pitiful tongue. Its claws are 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 too 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.

 

from Half-Lit Houses (Four Way Books, 2004)

About Richard Long

I'm a Professor of English at Saint Louis Community College--Meramec, where I teach composition, creative writing, environmental literature, and poetry. I also edit 2River, home of the 2River View, the 2River Chapbook Series, and Muddy Bank. You can also follow me on my bicycle as I tour the country, self supported, at richardtreks.blogspot.com.
This entry was posted in NPM. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s