My heart was attached to the firewood.
It was wrapped first in kindle, thread, rosemary,
then burned as tinder. I asked myself how I had lived
racing toward an end that would always end in fire.

As the bundle burned, one would think
the listener held matches, one would think
they would laugh pointing to the roaring flame.
But it was really the night sky watching mercifully

with stars gathered on its shoulders.
Our ancestors believed in one true burning,
watching us as light separates into filaments,
and all of us living, witnessing sparks in the sky.

Tina Chang was born in 1969 in Oklahoma to Chinese immigrants. She and her family moved to Queens, New York a year later. Chang attended Binghamton University and received her MFA in poetry from Columbia University.

She is the author of Hybrida (W. W. Norton, 2019), Of Gods and Strangers (Four Way Books, 2011) and Half-Lit Houses (2004), which was a finalist for an Asian American Literary Award from the Asian American Writers Workshop. Chang is also the coeditor, with Nathalie Handal and Ravi Shankar, of Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry From the Middle East, Asia and Beyond (W.W. Norton, 2008).

Chang has held residencies at MacDowell Colony, Djerassi Artist’s Residency, Vermont Studio Center, Fundacion Valparaiso, Constance Saltonstall Foundation, Blue Mountain Center, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She has also received awards from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, Poets & Writers, and the Van Lier Foundation. She was elected Brooklyn poet laureate in 2010, and splits her time between upstate New York and Brooklyn, New York.


  1. I enjoyed reading this poem. Thanks for posting

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