Photo by Jason Knott
by Genny Lim, from Winter Place

Don't let me forget
to light the candles of my ancestors
and not abandon them to ghosts
who wander deep into my dreams
Don't let me forget
the beauty of the phoenix
When I grasp its luminous tail
it is your piercing bones I find
curving into the lifeline of my own hand
When I look into its slender eyes
it is the deep lagoons of yours I find
drowning tradition

China's past is but a coffin to me
It is a legacy of thirst and hunger
embroidered with the tears and
sweat of centuries
It is a dream
passed down in jade heirlooms and
shut inside small lacquered boxes

I have never kissed you high cheeks
nor stroked your pale, scented feet
yet I know how grandfather must have loved
the subtle furrow of your waist
between his peasant's hands and
the gentle incline of your neck
whenever you cried

I imagine him grieving
when there was nothing left but
the delicate memory of your song
emerging from the ashes
weaving so deep a valley
its echoing slopes
carried you over the wind

copyright 2001, Genny Lim

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