Home > Poetry > Untitled #12, 1981
Published: Fri Apr 15 2022
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
AGNI 95 Mental Health Gender Relationships
Untitled #12, 1981

after Agnes Martin


Agnes must have wanted me to see innocence or happiness
when looking at this painting. But all I see is the gathering

of pink at the bottom. For every woman, there is a man who
is nearby. Every woman has asked a tree a question. If you

ask a tree too many questions, it will fall down. You can hear

a tree take its last breath, it sounds like gurgling. All the
answers are in the gurgling. A woman just shut a window

because of someone staring in. I can’t look at the window

without thinking man. Or kidnap. Or knife. I prefer the words
of things I can’t see, such as wind, now, exist. Is it possible to

separate a woman from her life? For a life to just be a life? For
the art to be down the road from the paint? Just once I want
to look in the mirror and wonder, What is that?

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Victoria Chang’s  latest books include Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence, and Grief (Milkweed Editions, 2021) and the poetry collection The Trees Witness Everything (Copper Canyon Press, forthcoming 2022). Her collection OBIT (Copper Canyon Press, 2020) received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Poetry, and the PEN/Voelcker Award, and was longlisted for the National Book Award and named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Griffin International Poetry Prize.  Her previous books of poems include the books of poems: Barbie Chang (Copper Canyon Press, forthcoming 2017); The Boss (McSweeney’s, 2013), winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award and a California Book Award; Salvinia Molesta (University of Georgia Press, 2008), and Circle (Southern Illinois University Press, 2005). A 2017 Guggenheim Fellow, Chang holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and an MBA from the Stanford School of Business. She is a core faculty member in Antioch University’s low-residency MFA Program. She lives in Los Angeles. She also writes children’s books. You can find her at www.victoriachangpoet.com. (updated 4/2022)

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