Archive for the ‘poetry’ Category

Lightly Touching

The steadfast hands of the Swiss watch
creep in circles; they constantly brush past Roman numerals
like the churning motion of dark blue water against the hull.
Cases of grain and petroleum barrels
outnumber the people on board, and in the corner is a crate of woolen sweaters,
each with eight hand-sewn ivory buttons.
Away my ship sails.
I, the senior captain, am in control.

At night, I finger this watch band
of gold and silver criss-crosses
that so closely resembles the alleyways of Shanghai.
The chaos is safe.
A crowd swells around
the brick walls of a school building, waiting for food rations.
Bright red brushstrokes against maroon brick look
like the scales of a deep sea dragon.
I recognize the words.
Last month, my second son, with tiny fingers clutching a calligraphy pen,
traced the English alphabet and this very slogan
that shields the buildings in red.
“Love Live Chairman Mao.”

One day at sea, they say
“America is near,” and I see
a foreign mass of docks, men in blue costumes
and smoke trails that play with and perplex the sails.
We stop and go, exchanging cargo but no footprints.
I never stay too long at a port,
just like the watch hands that only touch the numerals lightly.
I don’t linger.

Back at sea, with the waves swaying in rhythm, I wonder
if there really is a mountain of gold that rises and falls with the cycling sun,
what words the alphabet can form besides
the familiar slogan,
and if they make watches there
in America.
Light and thoughts alike reflect off the smooth watch face, dancing and
discovering their surroundings.
Away my ship sails.
Behind me is a land like nothing I know.



This isn’t a new composition, but it is one I hold dear to my heart.

On a side note, this advice from Nelson Wang is the best I’ve read in a while.

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