Tiffany Kang


 

about the artist

Taiwanese by way of DC and Philadelphia. 
Living to write, writes for a living.

Tiffany Kang's work has appeared in The Sacramento Bee, Philadelphia Magazine, Metro New York, Eunoia Review, and Hermes Poetry Journal, among others. She has featured at the Philadelphia Poetry Slam and Asian Arts Initiative, and was nominated best female poet at the Wade-Lewis Poetry Slam. Tiffany graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Creative Writing program in 2014. She lives in Albany, CA. 

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To those who have stopped believing in first times, 
clear your mind. 
If there are second chances, 
there will always be first times. 

You are still the children of your mothers.
On bad days, you are your best friend’s anonymous hero. 
On good ones, you are your own.
You are descendants of explorers
who once held moondust in their palms,
and felt a pulse louder than their own. 
You are ancestors of future prodigies
who will save this world from what we are doing to it.
They will forgive us for our crimes, 
and ask more of their own children.

You are who you were before you stopped wanting to be.
So remember, the sound of your name
when you were still proud of the person it labeled.
Remember your second grade birthday cake, 
and ask yourself why everything nowadays is tasteless.
Find your first heart, 
the one you’ve grown a couple sizes too good for,
and put it back on your sleeve where it’s meant to be,

Because you are beautiful, 
beauty yet to behold itself,
like the first ring of “middle c” in a deaf man’s ear
after signing his last breath,
like the hallelujah chorus of a godless but holy nation,
that doesn’t need a heaven to tell it right from wrong.
Perhaps forgiveness for our enemies
grows inside bombs and crumbled buildings.
Perhaps every man’s secret is stored in the chest of a woman he loves,
because our secrets are the same.

So let us praise each other’s deepest shames.
Let the sunlight slap your scars in the face to remind them
that nothing on your body is undeserving of warmth. 
Your body is a miracle waiting to change someone’s life.
You have the backbone of Demeter,
the heel of Achilles that doesn’t cover itself with armour,
but lets vulnerability breathe properly.
You have the eyes of God herself
and the palms of an Empire who knows its future
because it knows so well its history.

Get excited for Monday mornings.
Spin proudly, across Broad Street in red heels and a rippling yellow dress. 
Rush hour will forget why it was ever in a hurry.
The 65 year old man on the corner will ask you where you’ve been all his life,
and you will say - I’ve been busy asking myself what I’m doing with my life.
But your life
is a handpicked continuation of someone else’s that didn’t make it this far.

So take a moment.
Feel the patch of skin behind your ear, 
inside your forearm, between your first and second toe.
There are places where we have all been spared of callouses, 
from walking too far, too late at night
with people who wanted too much to do with us.

We are still young in all the same parts.
Untouchable, infinite, 
our palms are as pink as the sidewalk chalk we used to spell our names backwards with.
And there were once days you didn’t mind so much the backwards.
When you still believed that if you cut a doll’s hair, it would grow back. 
That if you ate too many sunflower seeds, 
they would simply blossom inside your belly.

That
was before
everyone started asking each other,

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Who says we ever stop growing? 
And why must we be something
besides what we are now?

I’ve come to the conclusion that my best days
are reincarnations of my childhood.
When I decided I wanted to be a teacher, waitress, professional sumo wrestler
and President of the United States
between the beginning and end of recess.
When I was still forgetful enough
never to run out of first times.

But there are second chances everywhere, 
so there will always be
first times.