Obit by Victoria Chang
Caretakers —- died in 2009, 2010
2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
2016, 2017, one after another. One
didn’t show up because her
husband was in prison. Most others
watched the clock. Time breaks for
the living eventually and they can
walk out of doors. The handle of
time’s door is hot for the dying.
What use is a door if you can’t exit?
A door that can’t be opened is
called a wall. My father is on the
other side of the wall. Tomatoes are
ripening on the other side. I can see
them through the window that also
can’t be opened. A window that
can’t be opened is just a see-
through wall. Sometimes we’re on
the inside like a plane. Most of the
time, we’re on the outside like
doggie day care. I don’t know if the
tomatoes are the new form of his
language or if they’re simply for
eating. I can’t ask him because
on the other side, there are no
words. All I can do is stare at the
nameless, bursting tomatoes and
know they have to be enough.
First appeared in Poetry (July/August 2018) Used with permission of the author.
Victoria Chang’s fourth book of poems, Barbie Chang was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2017. The Boss (McSweeney’s) won a PEN Center USA Literary Award and a California Book Award. Her other books are Salvinia Molesta and Circle. She also edited an anthology, Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation. Her poems have appeared in the Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, POETRY, Believer, New England Review, VQR, The Nation, New Republic, Tinhouse, Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Sustainable Arts Foundation Fellowship in 2017, along with a Poetry Society of America Alice Fay di Castagnola Award in 2018 for her manuscript-in-progress, OBIT. She also received a Pushcart Prize for a poem published in Barbie Chang. She is a contributing editor of the literary journal, Copper Nickel and a poetry editor at Tupelo Quarterly.
Her children’s picture book Is Mommy? (Simon & Schuster), was illustrated by Caldecott winner, Marla Frazee and was named a NYTNotable Book. She lives in Los Angeles with her family and her weiner dogs, Mustard and Ketchup and teaches within Antioch University’s MFA Program. She also serves on the National Book Critics Circle Board.