Wendy Chin-Tanner

Two Poems

Through the Bathroom Door

I hear my husband and our little girl above the tempest in my head. I cannot drown their voices singing about ducks and fish and washing. Those first months, it was her insistent cries for milk and the tender gush that would release me from the squall- ing. Breasts filling and draining to the rhythm of her clucking chin, my mind would wash clean as her drunken eyes fluttered closed. I have told myself the story of my life in ten thousand conflicting tales; I have pored over them with a jeweler’s loupe for true stones, meanings, and despite such careful study, nothing could hold back the surge once the swell had broken. I had wanted to lie next to them as if they held the answers in their four open hands, as if my vigilance could keep us safe, as if language and names and places could be clean.


I dared you to tell me what you could not say and you did, then, fecund, fucking madly behind drawn blinds, there was no day or night in the noisy bed. Ever contrary, you were in the frigid air a poinsettia blooming, simple and naked, big body laid atop sheets, heat broken. It was winter, the short days lent themselves to talk, and frozen, the river paddled by night stood erect in peaks of ice. The afternoons grew longer and the river ran again, the water rushing, my waters quickening unplanned.

Wendy Chin-Tanner is the author of the poetry collection Turn (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014). Her poems, essays, reviews, and interviews have been published widely at such journals as The Raintown Review, Literary Mama, The Saint Ann's Review, and The Mays Anthology of Oxford and Cambridge. Wendy is a founding editor at Kin Poetry Journal, poetry editor at Stealing Time Magazine and The Nervous Breakdown, and staff interviewer at Lantern Review.