Poetry / July 2011 (Issue 14)


by Eleanor Goodman

           for Da Lizi

In the age of hunger
your grandparents' hut
clung to the curve of the river
where it wound round empty rice paddies
and gurgled song

irretrievability     replicas

white-rimmed blue of a schoolboy's uniform
supplicants at the gates of Zijincheng
the chaos of fecundity like Jiangnan fields before the famine
like cities packed to bursting

lit joss in the temples
prayers for sons and prayers for rain
dragon eyes bought and sold in the market for flesh
burials by the riverbank, your maiden aunt's grave

the girl your uncle bought, her folded hands
the thin soil that bore no more than clumps
water-laden mules, your father's starved
mind after captivity levied by spite

these lives measured and doled out in rations

Damaged love,
I will be your absent mother, your uncles, the early-lost sisters,
the country you left on your way to me
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