The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday and Maryland Masters Award

By Tina Chang


I was locked into a single seed, my future fathoming.
I was matter underwater and a sheer hoping,
when I latched to earth, a first withered bloom.
A sonic wonder, I sang about the future.
I was master of the oxen pulling me toward dawn,
an existence first in death, a state of stillness
before beginning, a middle earth of rain.
I wore many masks until the right one fit.
Then the storm passed and I was wakened by water.


I had stolen through the back door, eyed
two loaves of bread. In the life before this one,
I had seen the window, a greater reflection,
yeast in the tin rising fast. My wanting grew.
How does desire trump that? Perhaps desire
is what we know best when the heart
is listless but listening. I memorized my history
which was nothing short of gleaming disasters
repeated, just for me.


I fell into a patch of green which was earth's matter
and fell some more. I am a boy and found myself
between war and my own luck, startled myself
in goodness and in haste, made a fire and got to cooking.
Man: the most tender and incessant beast.
A flawed danger but no less beautiful. A prairie
where I walk for the first time, where I am the theory
of origin: my brain barks in the heat, my legs buckle
in the initial step, then a slow certainty, an engine
of progress. My ankles turn clockwise in the soil,
loosening root and worm, shaking free
from the tangle and what held me there.

Mambo Sun

I was never burned by anything that could touch me
and I sat in the imagined throne with spoonsful of red sugar
tasting the years ahead of me, wondering of the origin
of my mother. I think she is flame and quick step, glee
and ignition. I saw her hands once in a flash flood
pulling me awake, several claps and then I came alive
rising through the underbrush and cadence rumble,
then I breathed and found god's bone, cracked in pieces
in my throat and my own voice fused to answer back.


I spent Monday morning along with my parents and Paul's parents at Newport Mill Middle School, where Adam was one of three students in Montgomery County (one each from an elementary, middle, and high school) to receive the Maryland Masters Award from the state comptroller. It was a lovely ceremony: the school's choir sang, the students described their artwork -- which will hang in Annapolis for two months -- and afterward there were snacks and photos with various officials. Both the principal of Adam's high school and his longtime photography teacher, who retired at the end of the last school year, came to the ceremony too.

My mother, me, Mr. Foo, Adam, Paul, Comptroller Franchot, Paul's parents, my father, Dr. Benz, and the state arts coordinator.

The winning students and their teachers and administrators.

Dr. Benz, principal of Winston Churchill High School (also my alma mater) and Adam.

The comptroller and Adam.

Adam and Mr. Franchot unveiling his HDR photo of a train at the B&O Railroad Museum.

Our family celebrating Adam's award...

...and Adam's former teacher and current principal celebrating with him.

There was a display of artwork from students at the middle school, too.

Adam had to get back to school so he didn't miss calculus, so we dropped him off, then went out to lunch with our parents at Bagel City after making the traumatic discovery that La Madeleine has closed on Rockville Pike (what's left of that shopping center looks like it's about to be torn down). Then we came home to try to catch up on work and chores (laundry will be late this week). Evening TV included catching up on Downton Abbey, which I thought was annoying until I watched this week's Beauty and the Beast, which absolutely stank of shark -- and I used to love that show so much I considered postponing Sleepy Hollow for it. So many female characters completely wasted. Sigh.

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