Sun Yung Shin

Until the Twenty-Second Century

I laid my childhood to rest at the end of the tracks of the twentieth century
Like Hansel’s breadcrumbs
And they were eaten by birds and small, wild animals
A deer caressed his three-pronged antler against the mossy bark at the edge of the forest
He was too great from crumbs
He was too slow to notice
God knows I have rarely been in a forest without fear
It knows when to combust, turn seeds to bombs
I laid my motherhood along the beginning of the skyline of the twenty-first century
Like Hansel’s pebbles
They will balance on the sky’s uneven floor
Until I retrace and pick them up, lining my pockets
Or they, as rocks have done, are mistaken for food
Since we have robots and monsters
To clean, grind, entertain
God knows I am rarely near a true rock without fear
How it notes the era by shedding its skin
Every time it meets rain, wind, a rough tumble
Who knows old age is coming
Or shall be skipped over the space sewn by a bird
Who lights upon a second branch
If you wait for me, I will meet you in the twenty-second century
After the crumbs and pebbles are spent and lost in this one
If you wait for me, I will consign my bones to a place
That is neither trail nor time
Make an ivory needle from my ring finger
Wait, and I will make a map in this leaf-darkness
Not trace of terror
I will make for you a master key
Until then, I will wear it smooth

Sun Yung Shin
“Until the Twenty-Second Century” is from Skirt Full of Black (Coffee House Press, 2007).