Green Lake Park in Kunming

Every standing puddle accedes to the vanity of those who peer in.

As this is China, the faces that appear are not our own.

Even near ancestors like my mother’s father, laoye, live here.

Last time we were together was in a living room earned by his military service,

teas steaming in porcelain cups bearing cobalt dragons, his eyes

two black rubies intent with focus. How he laughed with hurt

and pushed the chess pieces forward when I called him slow, meaning to play.

Later, too embarrassed to apologize, I asked for stories of his war days.

I remember him clearing his throat, readying to speak, clearing and clearing

like a wind on a puddle that, no matter how it blows, can never

find its source of being. That’s all I remember. Everything else to know

he left here. In the water’s reflection, I mean.


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First published in Borderlands, 2014