Monday. This is how I end the day:
tearing up in a bus along East Coast.
The passing lights sharpen and blur,
sharpen and blur. For several quiet stretches,
the only other person sharing my trajectory
is a tired bus driver.
It is a combination of things. An unexpected song
this morning made me think of you,
even then landing in the city
that I had thought would remain ours. I have been
buffeted with the most mundane of memories lately,
the crowds crisscrossing the metro platform,
the telephone booth where you'd get off the bus,
the bumps in the downhill stretch as I biked to church. Only
you were stepping into a cold Sunday night, and
I am on the wrong side of the world.
Soon, there will be new memories I have no part in.
But this is not a poem about you, still the
second person in my writing, my last ditch attempt
at letting go. I chose family. The
sky is dark now, and I think of the
countless stars I cannot see.
Orphaned of this vast milky dance
I go silent, due home. My grandmother goes to bed alone,
in her two room flat, flush against her pots of plants
just beyond the wall, lining the corridor.
Our religious differences have come up
again over dinner, tension intermittent
in easy inconsequential conversation,
stubbornness sewn with protective love.
The incense of qingming is still fresh in my mind.
How those ashes dissolved into my clothes, my bag,
drifted like dirtied snow through the columbarium.
How I kept pulling my ponytail over, as if one more sniff
would eradicate the smoke that has perfumed my hair.
What faith costs weighs heavier in the night -
but so too a thousand small graces, and
the presence of the Only Wise.
By Yu Jia CheongQLRS Vol. 18 No. 3 Jul 2019