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Summer 2005

The Guests

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at Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California

After a joke is swallowed
on the tennis court, after
the last apple is thinned

to bone, after a smoke
against gold smalti tiles,
they assemble in tennis

sweaters and long skirts,
minks, filigreed grins,
chatting, rattling against

the iron gate of Casa Grande,
until the photographer barks.
How might they feel,

knowing that I have looked
upon their faces for hours
but recognize not a single one—

they who raised their eyebrows
in silent pictures, swooned
past sunsets on horseback.

All envied their privilege,
lipstick, love affairs, sometimes
slowing, but never stopping.

Why do I not recognize
a single one. Above them,
crows linger on gargoyles.

Some climb the sky, bankrupt
air—how they seem content
in their coming and going,

in their similar blackness,
in how their blackness
resembles every shadow.


—Victoria Chang



Victoria Chang's book of poetry,
Circle, won the Crab Orchard Review Award Series in Poetry.
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