Michelle Chan Brown

In Siberia

Orbit: The Asian American Issue
Volume 15:3, Summer 2014

In Siberia

the family smiles over their feast of leather.
Mother, be good enough
to give us a piece of your skin.

But here – thank god – dark rides the bonfire.
The memorable future embarks.

The haters are in transit. Their ecstatic baths.
Their beautiful laundry. The pinkie rings
on their pinkies.

In Mumbai, the girl’s breath tenderizes as she dozes.
In Jamestown, the hammer gentle on the cranium.
The huge dictionary of her, open
to the wind. The unprintable
atlas of her, flipped.

She stands on their ladder,
erasing her ribs,
lancing her grandmothers,
old enough for any of this.

Calm creatures of day,
tunneling the night garden
the blooms in mid-bomb.

In Washington, an upset shelf of silver bells.
Here the civilized. Here the clear.
Here the wild

deer, the golden calves of Achilles,
the empire’s invincible dolphins.

This poem previously appeared in TAB: The Journal of Poetry and Poetics through Tabula Poetica: The Center for Poetry at Chapman University.


Michelle Chan Brown's Double Agent was the winner of the 2012 Kore First Book Award, judged by Bhanu Kapil. She is also the author of a chapbook, The Clever Decoys (LATR Editions, 2010). Her work has appeared in Blackbird, The Journal, The Missouri Review, Sycamore Review, and Witness, and she is two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. A Kundiman fellow, Chan Brown received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where she was a Rackham Fellow. She was a Tennessee Williams scholar at the Sewanee Writers' Conference and has received scholarships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Wesleyan Writers' Conference. She lives with her husband, the musician Paul Erik Lipp, in Washington DC, where she teaches, writes, and edits Drunken Boat.