Magazine article World Literature Today

Two Poems

Magazine article World Literature Today

Two Poems

Article excerpt


Somewhere in Africa

my mother tends

her late mother's jacarandas.

Somewhere past a frozen river

my father drinks his cold tea

in the winter chill of a quiet dawn.

One day you will know

what it is to be truly apart

yet painfully bound.

Today we flew kite-maker Wang's black goldfish;

it won a prize, but he still splits bamboo with a

rusty knife

in a dust-filled corner of his hutong house.

There were flecks of sun in the lake.

By the painted pavilion, the heartache

of an erhu tangled the breeze.

We crossed a wooden bridge,

the watery graves of lotuses

lit, just then, by a gap in passing clouds.

In a Handbag

In a corner of my house

my memory of you is more

than a camellia blooming daybreak

outside your white bungalow, its red-tiled roof,

flowering trees, talking birds.

I would have taken the Kashmiri shawl,

its embroidery bordering

a field of monsoon green,

a country, food, talk, ancestry,

the color of our skin,

but they draped it over your coffin. …

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