In Fatherland

by Michelle Chan Brown

An alarm set, just for the ringing.
A match for the tongue. A teenager
in time-capsule, dangerously

lapsed of misdemeanors. A bridge
where you learned drown,
a claim on growing. A family

sharing your surname, but blonde,
bettered. He swept their hair
up in his breast pocket, swapped

foreseeable love for near-mirror.
Both sea, more or less, to Hell’s
watery-eyed ambassador.

No lake, this. Swamp. Sulfur.
Even in heat, you won’t shake off
your bathing suit, a cheat at steel.

Even wet, slapping insects.
One summer. None. All of them.
You couldn’t believe gold-

ridged wings hid desire. Your
Marco to the mocking buzz of Polos.
Continue, you’ll take any sting
as chosen. Consider this, a warning.

MICHELLE CHAN BROWN’s Double Agent won the 2012 Kore First Book Award, judged by Bhanu Kapil. Her forthcoming book, Motherland, with Wolves, won the 2014 Jean Feldman Poetry Prize. Her poems, reviews and essays have appeared in Blackbird, Cimarron Review, The Missouri Review, Witness and many others. She has taught literature and creative writing at the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia Young Writers’ Conference, and served as writer-in-residence at Pomfret School and director of the Broken Bridge Summer Arts Workshop. A Kundiman fellow and Rackham Fellow at the University of Michigan, Michelle is poetry editor of Drunken Boat. Michelle was born in London and grew up in Prague, Belgrade, Krakow, Kiev, and Moscow. She currently lives in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where she is a Fulbright scholar, at work on a hybrid text and blogging at Year of the Horse.