Poems from The Trees Witness Everything

By VICTORIA CHANG

These poems are excerpted from The Trees Witness Everything by Victoria Chang, a guest at Amherst College’s 2023 LitFest. Register for this exciting celebration of Amherst’s literary life.

Victoria Chang's headshot: an asian woman wearing black against a dark brown background.Cover of The Trees Witness Everything

Far Along in the Story

Once I sat in rain,
opened my mouth to the sky.
I yearned to be changed.
But each drop was a small knife.
At first I fainted,
but when I woke up, all the
ticking had gone and
all the centuries were one.
My choices no longer hurt.

 

Green Fields

I was supposed to
return to the fields daily.
I haven’t been there
since birth. On some nights, I smell
smoke that I think is
God calling me, but when I
follow, there’s just a
clothesline with half a life clipped
on it, drying in the sun.

 

Horses

The way their eyes stare,
sometimes I wonder if we
are really hollow inside.

 

The Wild Geese

They are not wisdom
or freedom or history.
They are not what’s lost.
They are nothing but wild geese.
I can hear them everywhere,
wings pushing down metaphor.

 

These poems are from The Trees Witness Everything. Copyright 2022 by Victoria Chang. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Victoria Chang’s forthcoming book of poems, With My Back to the World, will be published in 2024 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Her latest book of poetry is The Trees Witness Everything (Copper Canyon Press, 2022). Her nonfiction book, Dear Memory (Milkweed Editions), was published in 2021. Obit (Copper Canyon Press, 2020), her prior book of poems, received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Poetry, and the PEN/Voelcker Award. Chang has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, lives in Los Angeles and is Distinguished Faculty within Antioch’s M.F.A. Program.

Poems from The Trees Witness Everything

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