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Why Don’t You Write a Poem in Chinese?

All you need for fortune is just a roof over your head

My Chinese school teachers always said
every character is a poem. Look here:

how the character for sun is an image of the sun,
and how the moon looks like the moon. A tree

is of course a tree and you make
a forest by joining two or three.

A man is like the strength that tills the field.
A woman, if you squint, sits behind a loom.

Water drips, fire smolders; gold, you hope, 
will fall in your palms as heavy as it looks.

All you need for fortune is just a roof over your head, 
the clothes on your back, enough field to keep you fed.

At least a mountain is just a mountain. 
And a desert is just the void of water.

Like how a poem is a hallowed temple of words
(or should that be read for words, or to words?)

anyways, a poem is a kind of temple borrowed
for its hollow sound. Like how the whistling wind

is carried on the back of some lonely insect. In my mind,
the bird is written already ensnared by the bow.

I didn’t forget the earth, shaped in a Catholic grave 
like where you are buried, even though a grave is also 

the emptiness that hovers over the earth. Like how want
is an image that sits on the heart. I mean, we never met, so

what can I say about revolution? I guess it is the overturning
of fate like hides of leather in the sun. Some people say

that when young people use the word ‘love,’ we say it
without any heart. Tell that to my mother the patriot

who is glad the land she grew up on was tilled 
to make room for a glass tower, always summer 

on the inside, never wanting for food or clothing.
All things that burn can be extinguished by drawing 

a lid on top. Yes, even empire or species. Probably 
even mountains could be snuffed if you wear at them 

for long. But look, every fortune teller knows 
just how many meanings a name will hold. 

So, if you squint, you’ll see how even
the desert is ridden with tufts of grass.