She Posed For A Photograph

She posed for a photograph
in an intricately embroidered
full length haiqing dress
her water sleeves restrained
movement withheld
an elegant flower-tan's breadth
imagining time, fabricating scenes
time traveled two thousand years
to well-groomed Pear Garden
the birth place of plays

Eating with bowl and chopsticks
she sat, one knee bent
before the family's small
round dark marble table
her sitting posture resembled
a Guan Yin
a Bodhisattva
a mundane meditation
on moon's refection
in water

My mother
I knew her before I was born
from rescued photo albums
yellow stained, timeworn
photographs
yet, memories of her later days
were not so glamorous
a chill washes over, as I remember
her crystalline, slightly out of tune
Cantonese operatic voice

Reclining on bed
dozing off by a small tv set
her snores, I couldn't ignore
genuine compositions
trumpet french horn and oboe
bassoon and saxophone
all night long
lying beside her, I finally collapsed
into lucid dreaming
half awake and half asleep

She sat playing Mahjong
sometimes day and night
she favored fatty roast pork
ate durian straight from the ice-box
naughty as her grand daughter
she craved cold and sweet
ice cream cone and comfy shoes
both I brought her for a treat
first her belly to satisfy
then her swollen feet to fit

She called months after I'd left
a voice breathless, yet with joy
"I exercise I exercise,
I walk beside the lake for half a mile"
"your health must be improving" I said
instead, her yearning for life made me cry
she could see me in memory
sunshine girl holding a little umbrella
sitting crossed leg with a timid smile
little darling my love I miss you
across vast sky and deep ocean
six thousand five hundred thirty miles

Published on May 28, 2018