“Speak american” by Kristin Chang

photo by Luo Yang

Speak american

by Kristin Chang  

Talk like
you’re bred to be
here. I oil my inner
thighs, swear
the skin off my
bones, bathe in
all the flammables:
make napalm B
make a body
meant for burning.
If this country
has a name,
we must leave it.
Truth is, there is
always something
out there saving
me for last. This
is god enough. I wet
a bird in my mouth
float it on my tongue
wear it like prayer.
Have you seen
the difference
between being
dead and being
dying? It’s all in
the sea, the mother
I rechristened
raft. I return
to my body
to slaughter
a cow, bury it
in a bomb crater.
Scientists say it’s magical,
how the body is air
enough to float.
How some bodies are
light enough to belong
in the sky like the second
suns Houyi shot down:
son after son after
son. Houyi, whose
wife the moon
trusts nothing
but her night vision,
bodies hewed out
of the dark. Now
brush my mother’s hair.
Feel it flee
your fingers.
You forget this is how
she fled: buried her father’s
hands beneath a pear tree,
shaved her tongue
down to a single vein.
You forget
my name
in your mouth
is still mine.


untitled-designKristin Chang is from California. She studies languages, cries over poetry, and invents alter-egos-of-color for Wonder Woman.


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