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Letter to Ba From Ancestral Tomb in Jiangxi Province

Just as I have confessed to you time after time,

I am not grieving for granite & soil.

Three characters, no epitaph. A century

of mothers & fathers slung across your shoulders &

I am not grieving, because given enough time,

are not all ghosts wished into darkness?

Should their spirits not scatter, set out for dawn?

I can ask you to tell me about strength,

have you nose through the scrapbooks & archives

to wring stories out of scribbles. Right now,

though, it is not enough for me to pull the weeds &

bow again & again at the ground. I have done all I can—

found myself in the mirror, imagined our faces

repeating themselves like a question. For so long

I have trudged & stumbled, dragging my feet

after you. In Jiangxi, the moss grows

from one year into the next—I imagine

it stammers, failing to find warmth from stone,

the shapes of which eventually fall into vanishing point.

Journey to the West


Based on the Chinese myth of the Monkey King.


Mountain. My body pressed under.

In the dark I hungered for a life 

beyond all the topography. Unwieldy gestures 

on a crinkled map—I shrugged 

these ripples off and hoisted myself up. 

Because no one else was coming, 

then, I crowded into a band of vagrants 

headed to where waves would arrive 

and depart. We wandered with mist 

tracing our eyes, sweat pierced 

by rapiers of light. This was what each day 

made us—travelers that wrung out the faith

between each step and trudge. And 

several hundred miles away, the mountain 

continued to command its place, watching 

me and my relentless wanting: 

I smelled the salt of another country,

the sediment that would dry for my wounds.

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