Love with the Soldier
by Ching-In Chen
1. in the field of turnips
tunnels on odd days
our fill of sunlight
third afternoon after the damp set in
I looked toward the sea a woman with bonewhite
hair to her ankles
wrapping herself around
a uniform pink 2. Her back a plain I made smooth
with my trowel.
A thin trench there, my hand
passing what could be still
with exhaustion she names she valuable. Soft, pliable, my
rattles sides of soldier.
heard fractures dirt furious I looked under the cover,
in its jaws we hurt to look with our straight-on eyes skin hiding the names she had hoarded
her unfiltered echo and could not let go.
rising across the sea I turned her inside and out until
knocking on our tunnel door by night rivers opened in dreams.
collapse walls of names
tumble down sewage
life sweated out
your last green kiss
rattle against a set of dead
teeth or scamper
down insides of that closed
throat I extract
door of eye
we couldn't get to open no more
formless body dissolving in the napalm
Ching-In Chen is the author of The Heart's Traffic (Arktoi Books/Red Hen Press). The daughter of Chinese immigrants, she is a Kundiman and Lambda Fellow and a member of the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation and Macondo writing communities. A community organizer, she has worked in the Asian American communities of San Francisco, Oakland, Riverside and Boston. Ching-In is a co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (South End Press). In Milwaukee, she is Cream City Review's editor-in-chief and involved in her union and the radical marching band, Milwaukee Molotov Marchers.
Read Ching-In's discussion of this poem over at the Roundtable!