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Reimagine Seattle: Ching-In Chen

The challenges of the past two years have changed the way we live, the way we work, and the way we show up for each other. They have also given us a rare chance to collectively reimagine our future. Through the Reimagine Seattle Storytelling Project we invite community members to reflect on their current experiences in Seattle, how they have been impacted by recent events, and their hopes for the future of our city.

Breaths for Seattle

after Tiana Nobile

by Ching-In Chen

in spite of gray days where sun gone missing

		in spite of burning-down rage and lonely ashes which haven’t yet re-constituted

			lives pushed out and spread thin

I stay even though I’m hiding from cold wind breath

	even though your cross-day migraines love this city

	even though plates in your face shift in anticipation of storm

        even though I keep hearing stories of displaced community

because I keep visiting this small patch of Coast Salish land listening
	to running water’s breath

because despite potential dangerous breaths

        I breathe in sweet and small

                               I stay for kinship

                               I stay for green 

       a lone tree next to small brook I visit daily behind our house

       crows gathering and stunning me into paused breath

           your unexpected late-night meeting laughter and care 
                    in face of crumbling pandemic connections

           your hot soup weather always as offering

              in face of our bodies’ grumpy limits

   I stay to make home – an active choice each time, each day.

Ching-In Chen is a genderqueer Chinese American hybrid writer, community organizer and teacher. They are author of The Heart’s Traffic and recombinant (winner of the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry) as well as the chapbooks to make black paper sing and Kundiman for Kin :: Information Retrieval for Monsters (Finalist for the Leslie Scalapino Award). Chen is also co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities and Here Is a Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets. They have received fellowships from Kundiman, Lambda, Watering Hole, Can Serrat, Imagining America and Jack Straw Cultural Center. They are currently a core member of the Massage Parlor Outreach Project.

Submissions for the Reimagine Seattle Storytelling Project were commissioned by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods. The opinions expressed and information contained in each submission do not necessarily reflect the policies, plans, beliefs, conclusions, or ideas, of the City of Seattle.