My Mother’s Lungs

By Victoria Chang

My    Mother’s    Lungs—began      their
dying  sometime in the past.     Doctors
talked around tombstones.    About the
hedges near the tombstones,    the font.
The obituary writer said the obituary is
the moment  when  someone  becomes
history.   What if my mother never told
me stories about the war  or  about her
childhood?       Does that mean none of 
it  happened? No one  sits  next  to  my
mother’s small rectangular tombstone,
flush to the earth.   The stone is meant
to be read from above.   What if I’m in
space  and  can’t  read  it?     Does that 
mean  she  didn’t  die?      She  died  at
7:07 a.m. PST. It is three hours earlier
in Hawaii.   Does that mean in Hawaii
she  hasn’t  died  yet?      But the plane
ride to Hawaii is five hours long.  This
time gap can never be overcome.  The
difference is called grieving.

Victoria Chang, “My Mother’s Lungs” from Obit. Copyright © 2020 by Victoria Chang. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press. See