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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
In every kind of dream I am a black wolf 
careening through a web. I am the spider 
who eats the wolf and inhabits the wolf's body.
In another dream I marry the wolf and then 
am very lonely. I seek my name and they name me 
Lucky Dragon. I would love to tell you that all 
of this has a certain ending but 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
I'm the one in the back of the bar, drinking cachaça, 
fingering the lip of the glass. Every dream has left 
me now as I wait for the next song:  Drag and drum. 
They'll be no humming in this room, only fragrance 
of sweat and fuel. To make the animal go. To make it 
Hungry.  After that there is Thirst. 

* 

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