my mother says about hong kong:
that wasn’t your life. that was my life.
she meant the chicken boiling with anise
on the stove and the rouge pinking the edge
of the wooden spoon. the broth she raised to
her mouth to taste. she meant I couldn’t taste.
too young. she put cotton over my mouth
when we went outside. air softened. it was
her life. all skins of oranges left outside
to dry and the anthemic thunder—this
is not the life I want for my child.
that was her life. I run into hong kong
on the street in the summertime. I say
I got off the plane and came right to see you.
she wears orange. rouge. my mother’s face.
upon her so few places to lie. we sit in a cafe
in sheung wan with pink cups eating
bean cakes, and later I call my mother to say
I found our old apartment building.
that I had walked up the blue stairs
and laid my hand on the door.
hong kong a neon neckline, long hair glittering
with ship-lights, crystal balls, storm velvets.
it’s her life, yet I had come, and grown
my hair, and happened upon the eastern sun
like a moon. a life pearled into stories
served on porcelain into the mouth
of a hungry child.
when you plant a seed in vietnam it grows and grows
the mekong seems like the edge of the world
but it can’t be. that would mean we came
but behind there’s nothing but green.
moon, moths, the oily throats of wild banana trees
the woman rows the boat and she is green, her skin
takes root. this water, thick and dark as the mouths
seems home to even far away places. a man dips his feet
into it, sways. holds. he is drinking. light freezes
and does not touch.
palm fronds and straw-stems and blue tarps
float and then are swallowed. here the earth
takes from us.
everything we relinquish and abandon
she receives and weighs in her hand, forces it
to bear fruit.
fruit that is sweet to the point of seeming
mysterious. here our bodies are salt and
the light licks at us
as if we were a wound she wanted to heal.
here one only has to open a mouth to be relieved
the whole air is here. whole days of clouds.
we fall sleep in sweat and smoke, safe knowing
we will wake up green.