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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 15, 2018.
About this Poem 

“My mom passed away in 2015 of pulmonary fibrosis, and she had been ill for a long time. When she died, it hit me pretty hard, much harder than I ever would/could have imagined. Nearly a year later, I felt an urge to write some of these ‘OBITs’ because I felt everything around me had died. We picked a nice dress for her for the funeral. I often wonder what happened to that dress and wish I could have it back. It was a dress with blue flowers. The line ‘Imagination is having to live in a dead person’s future’ was inspired by Richard Siken’s line ‘I live in someone else’s future’ from War of the Foxes.”
—Victoria Chang

OBIT

The Blue Dress—died on August 6,
2015, along with the little blue flowers, 
all silent. Once the petals looked up.  
Now small pieces of dust. I wonder 
whether they burned the dress or just 
the body? I wonder who lifted her up 
into the fire? I wonder if her hair 
brushed his cheek before it grew into a 
bonfire? I wonder what sound the body 
made as it burned? They dyed her hair 
for the funeral, too black. She looked 
like a comic character. I waited for the 
next comic panel, to see the speech 
bubble and what she might say. But her 
words never came and we were left 
with the stillness of blown glass. The 
irreversibility of rain. And millions of 
little blue flowers. Imagination is having 
to live in a dead person’s future. Grief is 
wearing a dead person’s dress forever.

Copyright © 2018 by Victoria Chang. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 15, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Victoria Chang. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 15, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Victoria Chang

Victoria Chang

Victoria Chang is the author of Barbie Chang (Copper Canyon Press, 2017). She lives in Southern California.

by this poet

poem
Once Barbie Chang worked on a
     street named Wall
 
once she sprinkled her yard with
     timed water once
 
she wore lanyards in large rooms
     all the chairs
 
pointed in the direction of one
     speaker
poem

Someone will        love you     many will      love

you         many will brother you   some of these

loves will        bother you   some   will      leave you

one might        haunt   you      hunt you in your

sleep        make you       weep the tearless kind of

weep the        

2
poem
If you are     like me and can     only see the horizon
 
that unreachable     don’t know that want     sheds and
 
grows and     sheds and     grows     please don’t
 
keep trying               the outline     is fine find a closer