I by Changming Yuan

To begin with

The hieroglyphical origin of

My identity was simply no body

But a common reed

Bowing its head to the rising sun

On the barren bank of the Nile


Slim, tall, hollow-hearted

Standing against tropical heat

Until one day “I” was used

As a human symbol, an open vowel

Referring to the speaker

And since then I have become

One of the most frequently spelled letters

In the linguistic order of the day

Always capitalized

To embody my dignity

Though I am nothing

But a common reed

That could have been made into a flute

Changming Yuan
chang mingChangming Yuan, 4-time Pushcart nominee and author of Allen Qing Yuan, holds a PhD in English, tutors, and edits Poetry Pacific in Vancouver (Poetry submissions welcome at yuans@shaw.Asia ca). Yuan’s poetry appears in 699 literary publications across 26 countries, including Asia Literary Review, Barrow Street, Best Canadian Poetry, Best New Poems Online, Exquisite Corpse, London Magazine and Threepenny Review.