The Last Illusion

— Shuang Ang

is like burying a childhood possession
in the backyard of the house you sold
& thinking you might come back for it

but of course you won’t
& in fact go on
to have many other possessions

until one day you drive past
on the way to a brighter city
& see a strip mall
where your old house once stood

& it suddenly strikes you
that it’s gone

that small heart you buried?               gone
like the last bird               now that winter’s over

& it’s not that I’m not happy
for that bird’s spring or that I wanted it
to be buried               under yet another snow shower

but I must confess I liked looking back
over my shoulder from time to time
to see it perched behind me                              all feathered hope.


I am thinking of my niece Heidi
who often refuses to eat
the food she is meant to

                              & her mother
who tells her if she doesn’t then someone else will

& some other adult will pretend
to grab the spoon & swallow it whole
& something instinctual will kick its little feet
against Heidi’s chest & she will reach

for the thing she never wanted
until someone else threatened to take it
crying          mine mine mine


& yes               I was the one who first left
you behind

               (I mean:
               the bird
               the heart
               the once-possessed)

& now there are so many things
I want to say                              but my mouth can only open
round & stupid as a fish

                              & oh
I have been so arrogant—haven’t I

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