Photo by Jason Knott
Grandmother's Portrait
by Genny Lim, from Winter Place

Posed in white victorian dress
Hair pulled back in a chignon
under the brim of a straw-hat
so stylish, so demure
who would've known
she'd never been to America?

Grandfather sits
stately in a three-piece
double-breasted suit and panama hat
flanked by three freshly scrubbed sons

Father in a crewcut and knickers
hand resting on Grandma's knee
always with that startled look
as if he's just seen a ghost
Who would've known he was
her only son?

Some say she was killed in a theater fire
because of her love of opera
Others say she ran away
because he was stern and
she was pretty with
doe-like eyes

In China they whispered her name
In America they buried her
in this old photograph
which is all I ever had
of the lady who sang and thrived
on the colorul play of silk and
the feathery mane of a horse
arched in full gallop --
the concealed smile stealing over
the corners of her lips and eyes
moist, shining like stars

copyright 2001, Genny Lim

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