National Poetry Month Day 11: Kristin Chang


Kristin Chang lives in New York and reads for Winter Tangerine. Her debut chapbook is forthcoming in October 2018 from Black Lawrence Press, and her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Kweli Journal, Muzzle Magazine, The Adroit Journal, Hyphen Magazine, Teen Vogue, and elsewhere. She has been nominated multiple times for Best of the Net, Best New Poets, and the Pushcart Prize. She can be found at and on Twitter @KXinming.



In Chinese, the word country is half
the word home: 家. Written before a name,
家 also means domesticized, as in daughter

whittling her ribs into toothpicks.
Daughter breaking clean
as a bowl. I grow full on

steam. I eat through all my leashes, swallow
a sky twice my size. I gather rust
between my fingers, my girlhood

grown out of. In this country, I choose
between living like an animal or dying
like one. Be the tongueless dog or the hunger

it was rescued from. There is nothing alive
about me. I prove it with a passport
photo of my birth: my mother unknotting

me from a length of rope. Someday
a child will slip out of my body
like a neck from a noose. Motherhood

an attempt at my own life. I envy birds
who fly domestic, their bodies
native to the same sky. Our wings

are alien, attached backwards, angled
wounds. Instead of flight, we learned
butchery. How best to eat from

our injuries. We blow on our cuts
like cooling soup. Serve me
in a corset, a country waisting me

so thin I double as a blade. My birth
certificate an x-ray. The doctor
counts my bones, naming each

a way he can break me. There is nothing
meat about me. I am all joint, all
hinge. My body opens

no doors. To enter a country, leave
me behind. Water your garden
with gunshot. What grows is a woman

stemless, seedless. I am always ready
for bite, for arrow. I am always ready
to run. How else does an animal

learn distance
as dying. How else do I
learn home

is my hunter.

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →