f o u r  p o e m s




‘Do you know what it’s like to die?’

          Imagine a Chinese daughter asking her father this.

‘No. Just gone, not here anymore, I suppose.’

          Father replied, accepting

          once again the un-Chineseness

          nourished by his life’s decisions.


And so we made the crossing.

I tried to talk about death:

Knowledge acquired at second hand

From a string of names—Segel,

Klubber-Rose, Book of Living and Dying—

You’d know them if you’ve travelled

This way with someone you loved.

You’d have been just as certain

About the truth their every word told.


Then it was his turn.

He talked about the funeral:

No religious ceremonies, just something

Simple and dignified

Like your grandma’s years ago.

A large hall in the funeral parlor, but not the largest;

Obituaries in two papers—named them both.

You’ll wear black, of course, not the Chinese white.

We both smiled at the unthinkable thought

Of us in a white wailing paper-money burning funeral.


We spoke in snatches, two conspirators

Plotting in the intimate semi-darkness

Enveloping the hospital room

When the nurse was out of hearing.


next poem


contents download subscribe archive