Poetry / April 2018 (Issue 39)

Elegy for Yi Lin

by Cameron Morse

Guizhou, China
January, 2013

Your grandpa saw bats, hallucinating
in the hospital room

where his fatty liver failed. I stood
in a corner while the witchdoctor rolled eggs

over his jaundiced skin and basketed them
in the nightstand. That was my first visit

to the province of your mother's birth.
While Yi Lin lay dying, his family banqueted

in my honor. A guest at his deathbed,
I held his arm while he sprayed diarrhea

over the squat toilet. This is not a poetic image,
not a pretty thing to think about, but

on the night before your first Halloween,
I cannot help myself.

Walking to Walmart below the star-pricked dark
and cloud-swaddled moon of Blue Springs,

Missouri, I ache for the man I knew.
Sweet and patient, slurred and slow

to converse with the foreigner
who married his only daughter, he waited

at the train station. He took my hand
in the maelstrom of human body parts

and odors. He took my hand like a child's
though I stood a head taller than him.

He loved Beethoven and the mountains, breasts
of boulder to which mist clung like cigarette

smoke, he framed in a letterbox of thumb
and forefinger, forefinger and thumb. Tonight

I raise my neck to the wounded gibbous
on my way to buy ointment for diaper rash,

for your bleeding rectum. Yi Lin was
a beautiful man, little bug. You remind me of him.
Website © Cha: An Asian Literary Journal 2007-2018
ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.