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Miss Chang Is Missing Poem By Adrienne Su

Miss Chang Is Missing Poem By Adrienne Su

We know it’s to San Francisco
or New York—she couldn’t have stopped
anywhere in between, and she requires
a coast. It’s her taste for seafood
and the smell of salt water, even
industrial ocean. She couldn’t
have been abducted; she would have
karate-chopped the guy’s pistol,
snapped his partner’s neck. She wouldn’t
have run away—in spite of herself
she’s the Buddha
through and through; she dissolves
ill humor with her eyes. Nor
has she eloped; she doesn’t like men
as much as she likes lemongrass prawns
with black pepper, and marriage
in the only world she knows
doesn’t suit her. She once talked
about relatives in Hong Kong, but
they must have perished years ago
and her Chinese was broken anyway.
Not was—she isn’t gone for good.
She often leaves town on short notice,
just never this short. She left
a syllable on a client’s machine:
way, which could have been wei
the Chinese telephone greeting
or the beginning of wait, or
way do you think you’re going
as she sometimes said. It must
be tough to have an accent
in both languages. The neighbors
think she intended to come back
that night; she hadn’t taken the trash
to the curb, the cat came looking
for food, and she couldn’t have vanished
into thin air. But she was
oriental in a way most Asian people
aren’t, somehow immaterial and bound
to outlast the trees, the house,
her body—one could get in trouble
for saying it, but anyone who met her
would agree. She was the only woman,
who really was that creature hovering,
at the edge of the movies: dark-haired,
dark-eyed, supernatural, ginsengscented, otherworldly. Likely to one day
walk off the earth and into the sky.

Adrienne Su
from Middle Kingdom

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