Summer, 1964

Victoria Chang

There are 1645 boxes. Inside each box is a small white dot. On some days, the dot looks like a dot. On other days, each dot is one of my tears. 1645 tears in the last week. Mary Ruefle kept a cryalog. My log is here, in these squares. I now know that tears aren’t stillborn. In Chinese, 心疼 is different from 心裡難受. The first means heart hurts. The second means heart inside is uncomfortable. In English, we say my heart aches. In every language, the heart can be in pain. But the heart doesn’t feel pain. It is not a small mammal. Tears do not come from the heart. They do not come from the eyes or the body. They come from outside of us, like time, from one large repository, which is why we cry when other people cry. In this way, tears are communal. We depend on each other for our sadness. Which is why the repository is kept in a safehouse, away from the CEOs.

Illustration by Joey Gonnella

Victoria Chang is the author of a nonfiction book, Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence, and Grief, and several books of poetry, including The Trees Witness Everything and Obit. She lives in Los Angeles and is the program chair of Antioch’s low-residency MFA program.
Originally published:
March 27, 2023


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