Ching-In Chen is the author of The Heart's Traffic (Arktoi Books/Red Hen Press). Daughter of Chinese immigrants, she is a Kundiman, Macondo and Lambda Fellow. A community organizer, she has worked in the Asian American communities of San Francisco, Oakland, Riverside and Boston. She is a co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities, forthcoming from South End Press. She can be found at www.chinginchen.com
Dream Upon Arrival to America
Our Grandfather once on his way up
the line of pregnant trees, dragged himself
from the train station a canary sweet and
brown in the orchard, cinnamon jute. Thirst.
Pressed onto his bones. An orange rind bird.
Gray suit. Shaking his tail up the cruel mountain.
Almost black by sun. To follow the juice,
the bird cannibalizes his feathers chokes on
the lady, immense as a house gullet and
tunnel. Upon entrance, he took off his wide
swath of green. But did not bow or lower
his head. Scented with lavender, mine or be
mined. Opened, the bird sings into a net. Donkey
trudging through the coffeed dawn. His letter
of introduction. He is not used to such winter.
She opened her mouth, looked at his face
and shut it. A groggy sun. She lifted her arm
bears down on them, grinds through the air.
a green sky, In the direction of a separate structure, a sun peeled
Return home to the wide eyes of the house, your light shining from its pupil.
Past my knickknacked tongue, nervous system, a harvest of dead objects, your
Your clavicle uncovered like a wound floating on the sea. I have the same
We flew through the city
ankles and flap against
nothing that would listen to us.
The teeth uncranked the drawbridge,
the stars fell down
into the pit of night
to be cooked.
My not-mother scraped the gunk
out of the pot,
stuffed our mouths with it
before we crossed the border
to the land with no food
When we wouldn't swallow,
she pounded our backs against the sod
until it poured out in chunks,
into a body that would not be
photo credit Sarah Grant