NYCWP Voices: “A Mid-Tour Poem (for Kase)” by Ingrid Chung

Once monthly, the New York City Writing Project celebrates the teacher-as-writer by publishing works of poetry and prose written by its teachers. If you are interested in submitting your work to NYCWP Voices, please read the submissions guidelines and submit your work by email to voices@nycwritingproject.org.


 

A MID-TOUR POEM

                           (for Kase)

-Ingrid Chung

He came back tall.

with match blacked eyes & a fear

of fireworks. We sat on the sidewalk legs crossed

eyes

covered, dawdling – a smoking cigarette

not being smoked, my peeling cuticles. The traffic

ran over our toes beepbeeping away.

His fingers danced the tango in a milky

puddle. I silent.

 

(The day you left was only marked by the dying

mums

on my desk. I left them on the heater &

the warmth made them burn pink with shame only

to explode damp mumflakes all over the floor. I

thought they looked

like snow or rabbit fur or something & kept them

around

for a couple of days, hoping that the semblance of

the changing

seasons would actually create the changing of—

the seasons. Like a rain dance. Or the

moon festival.)

                                     The Chinese are all wearing

white to express their

sorrow & the fence is melting.        Someone is

doing the chicken dance all day long to forget

sadness &

I am just struggling to get dressed—

but really, I am wearing your heart upon my

sleeve while

walking the wrong way through a crowd like the little girl

that haunts your day terrors (the one whose father

had
the empty flesh eyes) & I am

the one who can’t sleep at night with the

tears of giants blinding.

 

It is the slept-on name comma name backwards on

my cheek.

Cold metal.      It

is daylight & your fear of spiders &

even after it all.

the hat

you left at my apartment that ripped open my

lip corners & a    chalkboard message

from the class before that seems to have

been for

you.

 

THIS IS WHAT I WANTED YOU!

TO KNOW!

the water clinging

to the lightpole is not

meant for observation the

crane statue bending over

to escape rust does not beg for

thought sticks float vertically

in the Hudson idunnowhy & guacamole

tastes best scraped off the side

of a bowl smoking still makes me

feel cool even after five

years & polar bears are just

black seals with frostbite it

is not enough to love everyone

& do everything you can for happiness

because sometimes it just

doesn’t happen

 

I play dumb by separating eyelashes with

a finger. Motioning, I tell him

to close his eyes & listen to the cars. He

needs this more than I know. We sit like this, eyes

covered legs crossed,

him with charcoal on his face &metal swinging round his neck, I

watching dogs picking winter sweaters.

 


359dbc7INGRID CHUNG is a tenth year teacher at the Urban Assembly School for Applied Math & Science in the South Bronx, where she currently teaches a 12th grade Honors English course & serves as an assistant principal.  She is a 2007 Teaching Fellow and is particularly passionate about effective new teacher training and development programs as well as transformative intervention systems for at-risk students. Ingrid holds a B.A. in English and creative writing from New York University, a M.Ed. in adolescent English education from Hunter College, and a M.A. in educational policy (School Building Leaders) from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education.  Her proudest achievement as an educator has been her development of two leadership programs for boys & girls called Umoja & Nia, which launches in the mountains as a five night summer camp for at-risk youth.

 

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