Friday, November 24, 2006

digging a hole to china

Kelly Tsai sent around her November poem.

digging a hole to china
by kelly zen-yie tsai

we are at war
with ourselves

700 missiles
sharp noses
across the taiwan

my mother
runs delicate
over plum candy,
sesame bars, dates
mashed with

at the sweet shop
in shanghai

for the first
time in 60 years

these her

before revolution
before exile

as she stuffs
a plastic bag
to its brim

for the 17 hour
flight back

to chicago

the engraver
at the great wall
didn't even turn
all the way around

before he muttered,
"oh, hua qiao."

and continued to hammer

my father's name
my mother's name
my name

the day's date

into the piece of
granite before him

what kind of
people are we

to think that we
can build anything
big enough to keep
our culture intact

that we can
be impervious to

that we can shut
the world out?

carol and i
are useless


we listen
to my father explain
why each of these
places are so important

so many poets
so many temples
so many gods

i can read only
the waving of
the lotus fields

the old women
dressed in black
reaching their
arms towards
the sun

the children walking
two by two gripped
in each other's hands
with superhero
backpacks on

tiananmen square
is empty of ghosts
empty of blood

just stretches of
gray stone buildings
and packs of postcards
sold for a dollar

soldiers tread lightly
past me in green polyester pants
striped with yellow

their shoulders
marked in red

their faces
than mine

we are not
so different

i realize

i press a kiss
to my crossed

untwist them
and let the kiss
ride on air

we survive
every history

in prayer
in prayer
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