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American Life in Poetry: ‘Homecoming’

Kwame Dawes

By Kwame Dawes

Victoria Chang has an uncanny capacity to contain, in the compact machine of a well-honed poem, so much emotion and meaning. She explores such a core element of what connects us as human beings – the capacity to remember and to forget. “Homecoming” proposes, convincingly, that our earliest memories are likely owned by our mothers, and their deaths end an elemental story inside of us.


The birds come back

but they don’t tell us stories.

Their wings remember nothing,

are never knowledge.

We don’t remember our birth,

when a mother dies, it’s gone.

Poem copyright 2021 by Victoria Chang, “Homecoming” from The Trees Remember Everything (Copper Canyon Press, 2022). American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.

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