Nothing Gold

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. -Robert Frost

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Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

I am a white American middle class suburban housewife trying desperately to tell herself that that is not who she is. One time I was a glowing young ruffian. Oh my God it was a million years ago.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Poetry Thursday

Lost Sister

In China,
even the peasants
named their first daughters
the stone that in the far fields
could moisten the dry season,
could make men move mountains
for the healing green of the inner hills
glistening like slices of winter melon.

And the daughters were grateful:
They never left home.
To move freely was a luxury
stolen from them at birth.
Instead, they gathered patience,
learning to walk in shoes
the size of teacups,
without breaking--
the arc of their movements
as dormant as the rooted willow,
as redundant as the farmyard hens.
But they traveled far
in surviving,
learning to stretch the family rice,
to quiet the demons,
the noisy stomachs.

There is a sister
across the ocean,
who relinquished her name,
diluting jade green
with the blue of the Pacific.
Rising with a tide of locusts,
she swarmed with others
to inundate another shore.
In America,
there are many roads
and women can stride along with men.
But in another wilderness,
the possibilities,
the loneliness,
can strangulate like jungle vines.
The meager provisions and sentiments
of once belonging--
fermented roots, Mah-Jongg tiles and firecrackers--
set but a flimsy household
in a forest of nightless cities.
A giant snake rattles above,
spewing black clouds into your kitchen.
Dough-faced landlords
slip in and out of your keyholes,
making claims you don't understand,
tapping into your communication systems
of laundry lines and restaurant chains.

You find you need China:
your one fragile identification,
a jade link
handcuffed to your wrist.
You remember your mother
who walked for centuries,
and like her,
you have left no footprints,
but only because
there is an ocean in between,
the unremitting space of your rebellion.

Cathy Song


Blogger Rebecca said...

That's really beautiful and makes you feel as though you can really understand the deep plights of these women who suffered on so many levels.

11:41 PM  
Blogger kate said...

I don't think I fully get it, but I really like it. Thanks, Maggie!

10:46 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

If you read something by Amy Tan, it will help you understand it better.

9:55 PM  
Blogger kate said...

I've been meaning to. Thanks for the tip. I'll bump her up to the top of the pile.

3:06 PM  

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