My husband was
a gas mask.
He was not sure
of our third child.
of unknown origin.
When he was
thirty-three years old,
I was told that lost
in a fire in St. Louis
was a breath of fresh air.
The rooms have lost their touch
& breath. One last smile's scent
remains unsent. & the stove’s—
no. He lost the habit. I lost the habit.
Please now someone take
the survivors—the brave cacti
& roaches—away, far, some realm
where dancing badly & singing
the wrong lyrics to favorite pop
ballads are still possible.
& if you can, take me as well,
lift me from the beige
abyss, the sofa’s bottomless
blandness. Move at least one limb,
one nose-hair—here, I’ll pluck it
out—take it or simply let it escape,
if not to a place with 90s music
& funny mistakes again, then at least
to the next apartment over.
Chen Chen is a University Fellow in Poetry at Syracuse University, where he also helps edit Salt Hill. Recent honors include fellowships from Kundiman, Tent: Creative Writing, and the Saltonstall Foundation.