on hua yun hill
from where did you come? i ask. i’m
ignored for the crinkle of lollipops,
scopeless, sweet. you unwrap one slowly.
i wait. i’ve subsisted twenty years
on self-scrapped fact
alone, so just toss me a shred.
now that we’re here.
i want to know.
months you walked to school
in the early morning dark. months
you had nothing to eat. months
you entombed, the hours
young and already
in the bone.
it’s been forty some years,
father. hold what you will,
but will you not speak forever?
tell me: did you know
here, when white clouds encroach
you can see the mountains still?
when you turn towards an other
to grow your own,
how will you do it?
dust in the hallway light.
my mother never whispers,
so a cardinal fear came
and sung in my throat.
here my mother turned her earth
to cindered grief, which swelled
a miser harvest. here she grew
us in the center
of this belly fruit, a pomegranate
out of season—
it was the only way. so
don’t applaud a thing, please.
all summer, ma,
i have been eating dreams
between my tongue, my belly dancing.
dancing, dancing. so if nothing else, ma
could you tell me one more time
how am i to swallow
the redness of this life?
KATHY JIANG was born in Neijiang, China and raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. She is a recent graduate of the College of William and Mary, where she was editor-in-chief of the William and Mary Review. Her poetry is forthcoming in Proverse Hong Kong, storySouth, and elsewhere.