Hello readers! Every week, the BOA staff shares one of our favorite poems from our over 300 collections of poetry. This week's poem is from Chen Chen's Poulin Prize-winning, National Book Award longlisted debut collection When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities—on sale now in the BOA Bookstore!
If I should die tomorrow, please note that I will miss the particular
music of the word "callipygian,"
which means the having of well-shaped buttocks.
I will miss the particular cruelty
of tongue twisters in my first tongue:
"Shíshì shīshì Shī Shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī.
Shì shíshí shì shì shì shī."
I will miss the particularly high volume
YES of correctly completing this tongue twister,
even once. & the deadpan ditty
of the English translation: "Mr. Shi, the poet
from a stone den, likes to eat lions. He pledges
solemnly to eat ten lions. Regularly
he goes to the market to look at the lions."
I will miss the roar of those lions,
hungering for freedom
while Mr. Shi hungers for them. & outside
the market, on a nearby street, the bright
ding-ding of a bicycle bell. & the messenger
singing, A telegram, a telegram
from overseas . . .
& the sound of the sea.
The sound the sea makes at night,
delivering its own telegrams—
a sort of sensual
moo. I will miss the particular quiet
of my body, your body, opening
a window to listen.