More than once you wanted me to die.
I kicked the door until its hinges popped.
I collapsed in particle board dust.
I am a sort of door: I know how to swing open
and slam shut. I know how to lock.
You want the house. You want the last crumb
of soul I have left, but I don’t die. I don’t have a body.
I have an elm, fracturing limb by furious limb.
Our tornado summer. My weekly storm,
the heretic assailing the saint.
To swing open: 98º in the barn shade.
To slam shut: you sleep through my glory,
this dawn-constructed confession. To lock:
I do not know. I do not know how
to fill the smallest rooms. Once the sky
could forestall the revelation of the future,
but now I am an orchard forsaken. Ardent.
Ungovernable. Dead branch, fruitlessness, reach
for what I cannot. Not who you were or are,
but who you wanted to be. A wise thing
growing wiser. Ageless heart. To want
was the first survival. To be, the last.
This poem appeared in Indiana Review 34.2, Winter 2012.
Emily Corwin (Poetry Editor): “Doom Is the House without the Door” gorgeously navigates the dissolve of a relationship and its aftermath. Like the repeated imagery of doors in the poem, Chang’s speaker hinges and stops, back and forth, ever reeling towards this feeling of disaster, loss, a storm to be survived.
Jennifer Chang is the author of two books of poetry, The History of Anonymity and Some Say the Lark, which will be published by Alice James Books in October 2017. Her recent work has appeared in American Poetry Review, A Public Space, Orion, Narrative, and Poetry. She is an assistant professor of English and creative writing at George Washington University and lives in Washington, DC.