About this Poem 

"As I was writing 'Wonder Cabinet' I was concerned with space, confinement, and freedom. I wondered what we sought, in shelter, to contain/protect and what we sought to let go and release. The poem is an exploration of home, the memory of which is ultimately a construct of the mind."
—Tina Chang

Wonder Cabinet

Tina Chang, 1969

I opened the silver pronged evening and translated
the great song of the Industrial Age. Each night
I hoped it would tell a different ending. Each time
it sang a song, sadder than I would have imagined.

I heard it, not only when I put all my perspectives
away on shelves, until the shelves caved in.
What was left: a room with windows that looked out
and I interpreted the vast room that spoke of longing,

but mostly air. I consoled myself, heavy lidded,
I revealed myself to no one. I ached by the staircase.
I opened the cupboards and the refrigerator to let the cold in.
I walked with my bare feet dragging my lone body,

cold as milk as I kissed the bottomless depth, an ear
tuned toward the series of bells, wind tied to a tree.
And then the wind stopped. If I break
the many windows will the sea roil and foam?

I am consumed with houses and what may propagate
inside them. What longing lives there, breeds
redemption? An open door to the wide plain is not a metaphor.
I swing it open each day. I leave the old house.

Copyright © 2013 by Tina Chang. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on August 2, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Tina Chang. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on August 2, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Tina Chang

Tina Chang

Born in 1969, Tina Chang was a finalist for an Asian American Literary Award from the Asian American Writers Workshop for her debut collection Half-Lit Houses.

by this poet

poem
Perhaps I hold people to impossible ideals, 
I tell them, something is wrong with your 
personality, (you're a drinker, you're 
too dependent, or I think you have 
a mother/son fixation). This is usually 
followed by passionate lovemaking,
one good long and very well meaning 
embrace, and then I'm out the
poem
_____

I was locked into a single seed, my future fathoming. 
I was matter underwater and a sheer hoping, 
when I latched to earth, a first withered bloom. 
A sonic wonder, I sang about the future.
I was master of the oxen pulling me toward dawn, 
an existence first in death, a state of stillness 
before
poem
When everything was accounted for 
you rummaged through my bag to find 
something offensive: a revolver, 
a notebook of misinterpreted text. 

I'm God's professor. 
His eyes two open ovens.
He has a physical body
and it hiccups and blesses. 

Tell me a story before the mudslide, 
tell it fast before the house