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Barbie Chang Should Have Seen

by Victoria Chang

Barbie Chang should have seen
            the signs should

have noticed the signs in the street
            that were backwards

that were in a different language
            should have noticed

the people hiding behind trees in front
            of her mother’s house

her mother catching her breath after
            a shower little pieces of

death that fell off of her like dust
            for two years the car

never moved then her body hardly
            moved out of the bed

death is fragmented is not a noun but
            a verb its movements

are invisible Barbie Chang visited each
            day with her wagon of

food guns ready to shoot the dragons
            under the bed to shoot

the dementia out of her father’s head
            she should have

seen the signs but was busy tending to
            her children sleeping

with both eyes closed she was tired of
            her mother tired of her

anger toward her father tired of her
            father’s weather

his errors tired of their errands tired
            of her lungs and their

refusal to open why do we kill flowers
            for a funeral when there

is already so much death fifty people
            came all the people

who never visited who never saw her
            fill canisters with air

the hospice notebook said 7:14 can’t
            breathe then 7:34 last

breath Barbie Chang never saw her take
            her second-to-last breath

never saw her wait twenty seconds wait
            for Barbie Chang to come

see her wait for Barbie Chang to punch
            holes in her lungs 

Barbie Chang couldn’t find the hole puncher
            wanted to punch herself for

not singing to her for not medicating her
            father for not believing her

mother about her father for not combining
            the word death with an

object for thinking death is something
            within itself something

containable like an eyeball is it better
            for leaves to stay on

or fall off where were all the people where
            was Barbie Chang when she

took one more breath when she blew
            out her last wrath

Victoria Chang’s fourth book of poems, Barbie Chang, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press. Her third, The Boss (McSweeney’s Poetry Series, 2013), won the PEN Center USA Literary Award and a California Book Award. Her previous collections are Salvinia Molesta and Circle. She also writes children’s books. (10/2016)

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