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My Father and My Mother
Future and How Could We Forget Wang Wei?
Yale Literary and Arts Magazine, No. 1, 2003
open on the bed. My grandfather is packing up
his organs. This completed, he takes a taxi to my grandmother’s
house for supper. Exits
the empty car to Taipei alley.
Dissolve. Now the Los Altos lot.
So did you listen to him, MY FATHER says taking his
keys out of the ignition. You should
become a lawyer but your grandfather says anything is fine. As long as
you’re the best.
MY FATHER stays, MY MOTHER stays silent. I sit and suck my thumb.
I saw your painting. It was beautiful, my mother says to WANG WEI, restrained
behind us by backseat-belt and streetlight world—WANG WEI who says:
In the silent bamboo woods, sitting along
Playing strings and bellowing long.
But America is allergic to bamboo, MY FATHER to WANG
WEI. They love skill sets, cash and
the first person singular, the language of C++ not our English. Steps
out, shuts the
door, puts gas pump by Acura trunk. My father’s son does not understand,
Chinese he never remembered. But my mother holds words in her mouth:
The Peking opera soundtrack of my childhood. You sound like it. I’d
listen to it on the radio. You know, when I had to sweep the floor. And
then WANG WEI:
Nobody knows but the deep grove
and the luminous moon that glows in response.
California moon not glow—or as the translation
might say, irradiates instead like
beige screen before MY MOTHER, now at HP, after Taipei and degree in Home
and divorce. MY MOTHER like the moon which rents light from its past,
who says, looking at the dashboard, You should listen to your father.
I don’t know. Here
MY FATHER unlocks the door and says, Dropped the keys in the toilet. But
that’s what life is like. You’re young, MY FATHER says, I’m
not sure to me or WANG WEI, You don’t understand the world, the
world which loves those who enter it and then WANG WEI:
Red hearts in the southern country
Spring comes with stems enlarging.
I didn’t know you two were still together.
We’re not, MY FATHER says. You’re eavesdropping
on my son’s unwaking life.
Your son? WANG WEI of monochromatic line turns behind
holds seat-strap with left hand and asks talk-show serenely: Who are you?
He has seen me. Like the scene
in the movie, where the actors find the camera and say Stop
looking at me, they stand and quit the car the way a breeze would. And
Wish you’d gather some, caught me
More of this thing that is longing.
And Wang Wei asks: Who are you?
And my Father says: Decide.