Sunday, December 19, 2021

Jennifer Chang / Conversation with Owl and Clouds


Conversation with Owl and Clouds

by Jennifer Chang

Owl-night, moon-gone, my wherewithal
is yellow pine. Is trillium and unfurled frond.

Clouds,—a cantilever of the trees, vapor-
plied architecture of the ephemeral—teach me

the apparition-life, what tunes the branches’
nocturne off-key: how do bodies turn into

song? Glow of dust and sandstone light, stars
dropped like pebbles, like crumbs, heretofore

a fairy tale trail. Barn owl, secretive and out-
spoken, you spout two minds, a hiding place

and a traffic sign. What’s this absence
you speak of? Nonsense-yakking lost soul,

lost soul, the self-question that grows—
Who what?—odd and old.

Build me up into the fog, into brevity
made beautiful, the wet-dressed disaster

that’s rain, that’s the storm-threat of forest fire.
I want to be ornate and ornery. More than

a vapor-child, a night’s ward like the white
monkshood tucking under its bud, too shameful

to flower. I am hearing it: spring’s first wild melt,
each drop trickling into the next, a minor

chord. So snow’s gone, so how can I be
ice dissolving in water?

Cloud me, sparrowing and bark-loose,
each season’s dark ambition: a patient pattern

gone. O, I am hearing it: this say-nothing
noise, how the world’s clamor-born and

sorrowful, tricked for loss, the silent purpling
of crocuses mouthing back at the owl:

I will not, and soon—

JENNIFER CHANG’s poems have recently appeared in Indiana Review, Pleiades, Seneca Review, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. Her work is also included in Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation (University of Illinois Press, 2004). She is the winner of the 2004 Campbell Corner Poetry Prize.

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