Summer 2023 • Vol. XLV No. 1 Poetry |

Mountain, 1960

The Kenyon Review · "Mountain, 1960" by Victoria Chang Agnes tells us to hold our minds empty and tranquil as they are, and recognize our feelings at the same time. I want to ask Agnes how to do both at once. When my mind is empty, the feelings are gone. When the feelings are here, my tranquility is gone. What happens when the mind separates from the feelings, when all I have left are feelings, when the feelings are ahead of everything, even the pain they represent? I can’t remember when the outside flesh became our only flesh. When our minds could no longer be minds, could no longer be held still except by other people’s eyes. I have given my mind away. When I ask for it back, I’m handed something round and dead, but adorned with flashing lights. What’s left is not tranquil. What’s left are feelings that can only fit through a thin straw. Meaning they must be small, in pieces, and consumable. Maybe the present is so loud because we grow up thinking

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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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