Poem photo CORRECT JPG

If Barbie Chang is more still than water
            what will happen to her

tumors will they still grow in her if she
            is still what happens

to her daughters what has she taught
            them if the women in

the Circle mistaken her for a tree that
            grows unnoticed their

children will ignore her daughters who
            become shrubs

if she hates the Circle they will wait
            by the shrubs

and use them as shade she used to
            walk away walkways

everywhere away from the center she
            knew she could never

outrun an avalanche the rule is to run to
            the side now Barbie

Chang must send herself into the middle
            no matter how dull the

middle is no matter how full the middle
            is bloated with pretty

bloated with nothing witty once one
            of the Circle told

Barbie Chang a birthday party for a
            Lebanese girl

was definitely drop off only after the
            earthquake someone

drops off white snow on the mountain
            telling the climbers to

stop ascending to stop attempting
            but no one ever

listens to the voice because we have
            no choice we are

always proving our worth yelling
            something in a tin

can to see if anyone answers the phone
            in every photo parents

always look for their own children first
            only a third of us even

know about the climbers under the
            snow without shadows

Victoria Chang‘s latest book of poems is The Boss, published by McSweeney’s. It won the PEN Center USA Literary Award and a California Book Award.

*Photo by J.A. Palmer. Courtesy of the New York Public Library.