This is what children do:
Open the gate latched from inside
The way electricity jolts through the nerve system–
Like weeping, laughing without disguise
Like acknowledging hidden wounds
And the things you ask shamelessly:
What makes the wind that dries the rain?
What births the stars to light our dream?
What’s the pain that brings tears to the eye?
What’s the eye that lifts the sun from the earth?
You make my hands tremble
When I scrub your broken nose,
You make me take off shoes and put down books
To chase you among trees, play hide-and-seek
You make my friends shout:
“What happened to your speed, your brain?
Have you lost your edge since you gave birth?”
Yes, I say without apology.
When you call out for me, my four-year-old “sage,”
Your lips awash with blood and snot
When you demand my chapped hands and mouth
The way you demanded my breasts
The lock gate lifts
And the heart becomes an ocean
Wang Ping’s publications of poetry and prose include American Visa, Foreign Devil, Of Flesh and Spirit, New Generation: Poetry from China Today, among others. She won the Eugene Kayden Award for the Best Book in Humanities and is the recipient of NEA, the Bush Artist Fellowship for poetry, the McKnight Fellowship for non-fiction, and many others. She is professor of English at Macalester College, founder and director of Kinship of Rivers project.