Horoscope

Michelle chan Brown, poet, a member of World nation writers union ahd the chief representative of the United States World nation writers Union.

Michelle Chan Brown is the author of the book of poems Double Agent (Kore Press, 2012), winner of the 2011 Kore First Book Award, judged by Bhanu Kapil, and a chapbook, The Clever Decoys (LATR Editions, 2010). She was a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and has received scholarships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Wesleyan Writers’ Conference.

A Kundiman fellow, Brown earned an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she was a Rackham Fellow.

Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Linebreak, The Missouri Review, Quarterly West, Sycamore Review, and Witness, among others. She teaches and serves as the poetry editor for Drunken Boat.

 

Horoscope

 

My birth

was clerical error.

We were between two wars.

With grungy emperors,

small, crucial

losses were natural.

Some bureaucratic chaos

at the hospital. In yellow,

murderous nurses

ferried their cures

undetected. Surgeons spat

their stats.

The breathing machine,

warbling in a minor key.

On the speakers, Chopin

examined

his skimpy bust

again. Trusting

mother, elevated

like an offering. A séance,

ghosts she owned

climbing

her spine, still rich

with calcium. Her epidural

made her beautiful,

brought out her colors.

It was the year of the vulture.

Our future

starred

meat. That notion—

soul—like chloroform,

a gourmand’s stinking quilt.

Muslin, cheesecloth, gauze, eyelet.

We will miss being flesh.

It’s kitsch,

says the press, pushing away

bowls dark with Jell-O, tray

after tray. Whatever

it is, I want to starve

or feed it. Optimistic,

this thirst.

No oasis. No stubborn body to medicate.

Nothing to do but wait.

Take out the impatient organs.

That’s some desert we’re burning in.

 

Shipwreck

 

What we heard about thirst was true.

Everywhere, water. Everywhere, salt.

And we drank it. We learned to love

our crumpling bones. Each sunspot

on our skin deserved a christening.

Distance gifted the world a shimmer.

Time passed, perhaps. We grew wolfish.

Spears of birdcall. Unthinkable birds.

We searched for the isle of women.

We searched for our dead fathers.

We searched for the hardware store.

We were used to solitude. Some of us

had worked the mills, where skylights cracked

and loaned us stars. We learned to relish

the ownership of hours. Our sheets

acceded to the torpor. If you must,

call it sickness — the sea colonized us.

Below muslin, our heartbeats thrilled,

lazy as laps. Breezes licked our faces flat.

If we wept, we wept soundless as sand.

What wave would betray our trust?