Monday, October 21, 2019

Three Bright Threads

This is what I was told happened.

My great-grandfather was an intellectual,
had worked for the previous government,
wasn’t politically reliable. He was arrested.
The whole family was under suspicion.

My grandfather dreams of Bodhisattva Kuan Yin,
compassionate lady. “America,” she tells him.
“Take your family there. For freedom. For safety.”

This is what I was told.

My great-grandfather died in jail
and the authorities would not release his body.
Traveling together would excite suspicion

so my grandfather unwound the cord of his family
into three bright threads.

My mother was sent with friends to England.
Just a girl child. No matter.
My grandmother and the other two girls went to Hong Kong
to visit family: perfectly acceptable.
My grandfather and my uncle went on a business trip to Germany. After all
a Chinese man must teach his son the family business. Six years old
is not too young to start.

Three bright threads
unspooled across continents, oceans.
Three strands of hope
gathered together, at last, in New York,
the Empire State, not far from where the statue stands,
the lady with a lamp, head bowed in pity
just like Kuan Yin.

Bodhisattva, Compassionate One,
if my grandfather dreamed you now
what would you tell him?

Available! High-Voltage Lines, Knocking from Inside

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