Q: Why the impulse to traverse old habits? / A: I believe in the refusal to explain.
I open my eyes to let him go.
At twenty, when drafting my first poem about Taiwan, I wrote: Where I am from / summer
comes like a man / watching me, I am no longer human—Back then, the speaker was always me,
the poet. I wrote what I knew.
I live in a perpetual state of I don’t know is what you once said to me.
Imagine what I don’t know, I don’t know.
just thin breeze black hair / short nails high grass dirt-/colored rain—this discomfort was my
peace. If I had known then what was still to come.
One possible title for this poem: “Mountain Splitting.”
I Google it and find a Chinese myth. (The algorithm works.) It goes like this: a goddess falls in
love with a mortal. Eventually they marry and the goddess bears a half-god son. Then, from
heaven, the goddess’ brother becomes furious and decides to imprison her inside a lotus-like
When the son grows up and learns this story, he travels to look for his mother. He meets a Daoist
master, who trains him and gives him a magical ax. With it, he defeats his uncle in combat and
splits open the mountain to free the goddess, his mother.
I don’t know if they rejoice. This part has not yet been written.
I write this from a stranger’s house, his cat sitting next to me. Twice a day, I fill up Bruno’s
bowl, and three times, I check his litterbox. I don’t feel lost even though I must find the spatula,
remote, coffee mug, towel. I admire the jade plant by the window. A wish to cradle a leaf green
between my fore and thumb, feel its curves.
Q: Why the impulse to bring back an old poem?
A: I do not believe in the concluding lines, is not where I am from. I am not from / not where I
am from I am not.
Q: Why the impulse to traverse old habits?
A: I believe in the refusal to explain.
I have done it again. I made a man my mountain and burrowed inside.
I write this from a coffee shop, holding Tina Chang’s Hybrida. It is becoming evident that jades
follow me. Their green touches me blue. What else touches? The lines at the end of “Fury”:
love and love and love and love and love
and love and love and love and love and
my mind, a cat I try to call down.
This morning, I wore blood-scent and a face. I put distance between this man and me, love and
me, I and me.
One origin of the verb to know means “to experience, live through” or “to have sexual
Is loving someone accepting the unknown?
I climb the mountain, this man. His rocks I get close to—I could kiss. I take my ax and almost
split. I stop, instead, to hear the child of myself inside reciting: Where I am from / everyone is
family except for me.
Unborrowed from rocks and salt and dirt and root, where I go from here, I don’t know.
When I was on Alishan, I woke at 4am to take a train to then walk to the top; climbed it to see
Across from me, the trees split your image, sliced again by the rising sun. Yushan, named for the
way the snow makes you translucent like
a jade. My stone
around your neck.
I could almost
touch you. I did