The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Tina Chang was born in Oklahoma in 1969 and raised in Queens, New York. She was elected the Poet Laureate of Brooklyn in 2010, and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.
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 door.
In daylight, I’ll tip my sunglasses forward,
buy a cup of tea and think of the good
I’ve done for the world, how satisfying
it feels to give a man something to contemplate.
The heart is a whittled twig. No, that is not
the right image, so I drop the heart in a pile
of wood and light that massive text on fire.
I walk the streets of Brooklyn looking
at this storefront and that, buy a pair of shoes
I can’t afford, pumps from London, pointed
at the tip and heartbreakingly high, hear
my new heels clicking, crushing the legs
of my shadow. The woman who wears
these shoes will be a warrior, will not think
about how wrong she is, how her calculations
look like the face of a clock with hands
ticking with each terrorizing minute.
She will for an instant feel so much
for the man, she left him lying in his bed
softly weeping. He whispers something
to himself like bitch, witch, cold hearted
______, but he’ll think back to the day
at the promenade when there was no one there
but the two of them, the entire city falling away
into a thin film of yellow and then black,
and how she squeezed his hand, kissed him
on his wrist which bore a beautifully healed
scar, he will love her between instances
of cursing her name. She will have long
fallen asleep in her own bed, a thin nude
with shoes like stilts, shoes squeezing
the blood out of her feet, and in her sleep
she rises above a disappearing city, her head
touching a remote heaven, though below her,
closer to the ground, she feels an ache at the bottom.