Conjunctions:76 Fortieth Anniversary Issue

Four Poems
The following is one of four poems by Wendy Xu featured in Conjunctions:76, Fortieth Anniversary Issue.

List of Forgivenesses

The children I was, the chemical bitten
green of their sadness, who watched

the generational assembly of prior
knowledge, whose shame formed somewhere

over the neon ocean. Sorrow is ever
inelegant, the squat concrete faces

that greeted them. Not knowing where
to pass the salt at endless

Christian tables. Whose hand to hold,
whose tongue, yearlings stalking

the wilted margins of America.
Light through trembling fingers

of foreign trees. Who once cut
their hair tight black and straight

across the forehead. Whose blood
was dark as soy, vinegared

cabbage, radish root.
The hours adrift in someone’s

blue eye, the humble light
that carried them there.

The tragedies I thought I was.
The slow burn of moonlight

each night, up there patiently
unbelieving in itself.


Wendy Xu is most recently the author of Phrasis (Fence), named one of the 10 Best Poetry Books of 2017 by The New York Times Book Review, and the forthcoming collection The Past (Wesleyan, 2021). She lives in Brooklyn and is assistant professor of writing at The New School.