Saturday, November 05, 2016


for Garrett Hongo

Don’t worry, I won’t call you Grandfather,
I’m a little old for that, and anyway
my grandfather passed on years ago.

He took with him the last of my roots
in a land where doorways are built round, sails are square
a land that built a wall a thousand miles along its border (it’s so funny
that Donald Trump thinks he invented that idea), a land
where dragon kites adorned the sky, where women’s feet
were crushed and bound and rotted in their wrappings.
A land whose language he never left behind
and I never learned.

Descent is a very fragile thing, you said
very fragile.

I understand the words for rice and tea
although I can’t pronounce them; won’t eat rare meat, don’t like most kinds of cheese
can tell Mandarin from Cantonese by ear, but don’t recognize a single ideograph.
I’m not the pine tree on a mist-shrouded mountain
whose gnarled trunk has outwatched dynasties. I might
be kudzu. Throw a piece down anywhere, it’ll root,
flourish, spread, bind nitrogen to barren soil
and draw swarms of bees to its purple flowers.

Descent is a very fragile thing.
Roots are easily severed.
Let me offer you instead
a bounty of leaves.

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside


Ruth said...

Beautiful! I'm always happy to see you have put up a post!

Martin Kloess said...

A well written reflection