Please Read This Poem

Two friends of mine are teaching in Taiwan right now. Here's a quick clip of what's happening politically there straight from them. I thought about writing a lengthy introduction like Sartre did for Genet to ensure the reading of the poem, but I'd rather not. It is an incredible poem from an extremely gifted writer. You will read her poems in other places, with better covers and in nicer fonts someday. They will resonate then as they do now.

From Taiwan:
I'm not sure if you have seen any news about Taiwan lately, but the elections were yesterday and the day before that the President was shot in an assassination attempt. He is OK though, and ended up winning the vote by a small margin. Now the opposition is trying to nullify the decision and get a recount at the bare minimum. The catch is, he is the guy who is encouraging independence from China, regardless of the 500 missles China has pointed at Taiwan at the moment. I really think I like his liberal ideology. He is one guy who organized the human chain across this island in the name of peace. So, this type of violence in a society that so rarely sees violence, has the hair on the back of everyone's neck standing up. And now that he has won, the whole world is watching to see a reaction from China, and Taiwan is in the midst of political unstability. We shall see. 

March 20th, 2004
(election day)

These missiles are teeth, poised like sails
and time is measured in units of wind.
Looking past them from the shark's throat,
a little circle made of sky.
Beyond the fission held still, those
containers of sadness, China
is orchestrating sunlight and history.

Taiwan is Earth's mitosis,
a goblet of it's neighbor's DNA,
carrying a map of independence
written in Braille.
While we admire jaw hinges
and tendons, the synapse, the
thumb, oxygen and fuse,
the birds decorate the trees
like oranges.

I held hands with you the length
of this entire cell, dividing
and spiralling out to sea.
Kicking to be born, will she
keep these ghosts inside her?
I have forgotten to say my name
to this country,
because the light in its eye is
neon reflected, and I am the
night absorbing it.

As the birds lift off your cheek,
I hold a flag
in the air of your exhale,
so from above,
they can see something moving.

Erica Schlaffer