I Force Myself Upon the Soldier

                  All the words are resting.
The soldier across from me
binds her mouth, but I
push them in past
the ticker tape and the winding
clock tongue, past my own
fears sitting pretty like cared for
teeth of the rich.
                  My eye close to her–I
ask why why and why.
L didn’t know her name
before he died.                   This soldier who
hides her name behind a
rifle. I search her memory for
                  I have followed to this seaside
town where there are no people.
                  I hear no snoring or sounds of love.
The soldier leans across from me, does not want
the shadows dancing upon her sensible
face, but the words will not rest.
                  They take shape and stomp.

—Ching-In Chen, Milwaukee
* The title is taken from Sarah Gambito’s poem, “Kundiman.”