Robin Rosen Chang

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Robin Rosen Chang

At Capitol Reef National Park in Utah

How small I am and lacking. Ill-adapted,
                   unlike the tree roots
                                pushing their way through the massive rock walls,
                                                            twisting and arching—

or the tumbleweed
           cohabitating with the wind.
               It somersaults and spins across the wash,
                                            offers no resistance,
                    while the wild sage waves
                                          as if—

                                                            this is what it, too, is
                                      supposed to do.

The ease in which they exist—
                                            and never cause injury.

                                                       Maybe you, reader,
                                   know what I mean—being honest,
                                                                        the inadvertent offense—

               I might have hurt someone I love.
I’ve been too judgmental, too rash—
                                                                          Am I
                         the wife my husband desires? The one
he thought I’d be?

                                                          Have I been
                                      a good mother?
               I wasn’t an easy daughter.

                                      I want to be
generous of heart,
               accept others exactly as they are.
                                                         How does one do it better?
Look at the cactus—
                low and solitary,
                                 and covered with thorns.

And over there, the asters—
                   perched high on frail stems, rising
                                    from tangles of grassy leaves,
                                               unfazed by the pebbly soil and searing sun—
                                                                                surviving on
                                                                                                  almost nothing.

Should I be
              thistle, root or stem—
                                               or like the mountain peaks, in the distance—
                                         all that verticality—

                            or like the valley here, before me,
      unassuming and so exposed.

Robin Rosen Chang reads “At Capitol Reef National Park in Utah”

Robin Rosen Chang’s poetry has appeared in  Michigan Quarterly ReviewThe JournalNorth American ReviewCream City ReviewAtticus Review, and elsewhere. She received the Oregon Poetry Association’s Fall 2018 Poet’s Choice Award and an honorable mention for  Spoon River Poetry Review’s  2019 Editors’ Prize. Her debut full-length collection,  My Mother Was Water, is forthcoming from Terrapin Books in 2021. She has an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.