Genealogy

By Jennifer Chang Jennifer Chang
This stream took a shorter course—
a thread of water that makes oasis

out of mud, in pooling,
does not aspire to lake. To river, leave

the forest, the clamorous wild.
I cannot. Wherever I am,

I am here, nonsensical, rhapsodic,
stock-still as the trees. Trickling

never floods, furrows its meager path
through the forest floor.

There will always be a root
too thirsty, moss that only swallows

and spreads. Primordial home, I am dying
from love of you. Were I tuber or quillwort,

the last layer of leaves that starts the dirt
or the meekest pond,

I would absorb everything.
I would drown. Water makes song

of erratic forms, and I hear the living
push back branches, wander off trail.

Jennifer Chang, “Genealogy” from The History of Anonymity. Copyright © 2008 by Jennifer Chang. Reprinted by permission of The University of Georgia Press.

Source: The History of Anonymity (University of Georgia Press, 2008)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Jennifer Chang

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

 Jennifer  Chang

Biography

Poet and scholar Jennifer Chang was born in New Jersey. She is a Henry Hoyns Fellow at the University of Virginia, where she is a PhD candidate.
 
Chang’s lyrical poems often explore the shifting boundaries between the outer world and the self. Chang’s debut poetry collection, The History of Anonymity (2008), was selected for the Virginia Quarterly Review’s Poetry Series and was a finalist for the Shenandoah/ Glasgow Prize for . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.