you are in the diode archives spring 2010




I’ve looked at him from behind, while he’s not looking.  His calves are not perfect, slightly misshapen and bowed outward.  But I avoid his face so as to appear indifferent.  I know his back, the part farthest from the front.  If I look there, I am like a piano backed by a singer.  Or a beach backed by hills, always near, but never touching.  If I only imagine his face, I cannot be sunstruck.  But what if, in the night, his face steeps under the door and suddenly I am in his car and can see his herringbone face?  The face that tells me he too looks for me each day.  And when he stops talking, I cover my face, my headstone, my head, my stone.  Because the front of the head does not lie. 



He came back in French class with a leg missing, the pant leg in a knot.  Then he disappeared.  I never cared even though I had used his body for watching.  One night he appears, but looks fatter and older.  He sits on a bench.  Here, I no longer need to look away.  I look for his legs but can’t see them.  Even in a dream, there are frames.  I bend to see if he has two legs, but the border cuts them off.  I climb up the ficus tree to see, but I hit my head.  I walk to the right, but a baby coos and looks at my breasts like they are wet-aged beef.  They drip grease when they see its two front teeth.  The more I walk away, the more of him I can see, but the less clear I become.    



Once I loved a man who had so little body fat, he sunk to the bottom of the pool while I hung at the surface like a plastic duck.  I watched him disappear.  He seemed finally happy, looking up at everyone’s feet.  Somewhere there was a child getting fluid emptied from her stomach.  Maybe that’s why he was always thirsty.  A truck beeps when backing up, as a warning.  A man should come with the same lights and sound.



I never miss my own hands while clapping.  But the High-Fives I give to men never match perfectly.  What if inside every woman’s locket is a picture of herself?  



Victoria Chang is the author of the poetry collections Salvinia Molesta (University of Georgia Press, 2008) and Circle (Southern Illinois University Press, 2005), which won the Crab Orchard Review Open Competition Award. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Slate, Ploughshares, and The Best American Poetry 2005.