i was born into this place a bit of fire & a cancer By Colette Chien

i was born into this place a bit of fire & a cancer

I was born
a screech owl in the day, an angel after dark. never phased
with the stones of the recently birthed, miles or gem. i slept as if

my creation was a translation, split syntax yet essence the same,
wrapped up in sheets dreaming of ascension & lost languages. i

ate like i already had teeth & screamed like it too. wisdom pulling
at the edges of my gut: i understand what that animal is, i know

his name, when a dog runs it’s towards, when a cat does it’s away.
i never thought that a ruby fit july or my disposition, its color

violent like the earth after she was birthed. i wanted to be the sky
after she settled & reflected her breath with liquid salt. i wanted

to be my mother’s ring & maybe her pet for awhile. she said we used
to be friends in past lives & lived where snow filled our lungs.

we lived where light won hide & seek but i still slept fine, always
snug under the ever-shift of celestial parts. we were friends away

where rubies are the same shade as the sky / & in a different place, i
suppose i may have cried instead of shrieked. the same day she

adopted my first word, distinguishable from a howl, was the day
she had her wisdom withdrawn from gums & placed in a metal dish.

dizzy & swollen she called her kitten ike, like the sound of her
teeth falling into foreign terrain. i never loved him because he

wasn’t mine but he explained to me the difference of how we came into this
place. that when a human runs it’s disparate, towards you & away.

By Colette Chien


My name is Colette Chien. I am a senior at Sarah Lawrence College with a concentration in poetry and wildlife ecology. My previous published work includes my chapbook, “the poison in our houses” in Silent Actions Magazine, the poem, “i was born into this place a bit of fire & a cancer” into Love and Squalor magazine, and the poem, “visceral fears & ampersands have nothing to do with this” in The Sarah Lawrence College Literary Review.

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