Winter 2005 • Vol. XXVII No. 1 PoetryJanuary 1, 2005 |

Cardinal

The cardinal's crest, hues of spark and fire, its body jerking back and forth, wings ripping rapidly at air, a machine of flesh and bone fluttering against my car's side mirror, resting briefly, then attacking its own image again. I had meant to be over there— a worker laboring in a fish commune in Guizhou, with skin like a silver carp and hands cut like gills, pond silt through my vessels, feeding parts of haddock to hake, sea bream to flounder, gathering duck feces for feed, the fish humming in my walls at night. I had meant to have my mother's fingers around my throat for being a girl or meant to beat my own daughter with a walking stick, all the mirrors I looked into, reflections missing.

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Victoria Chang’s forthcoming book of poems, With My Back to the World, will be published in 2024 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Her latest book of poetry is The Trees Witness Everything (Copper Canyon Press, 2022) and her nonfiction book, Dear Memory (Milkweed Editions), was published in 2021. OBIT (Copper Canyon Press, 2020), received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Poetry, and the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry.

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By Victoria Chang

The cardinal's crest, hues of spark and fire, its body jerking back and forth, wings ripping rapidly at air, a machine of flesh and bone fluttering against my car's side […]

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