Beijing Spring

Love, if I could give you the eternal summer sun
or China back her early ideological splendor, I would.
If I could hoist the dead horses back
and retrieve the wisdom charred by the pyres of Ch'in.
If I could give Mother the Hong Kong of her mulberry youth
and Father the answer that the ox desired,
they would still be together now and not blame
their sadness on the unyieldy earth.
If I had separated goose from gander, goose from gander,
the question of monogamy and breeding for life, the question
of the pure yellow seed would not enter.
This courtyard, this fortress,
this alluvium where the dead leave their faces-
each step I take erases the remnants of another,
each song I sing obfuscates the song of Changan,
ripples washing sand ripples washing sand ripples.
each poem I write conjures the dead washing-women of Loyang.
Lover, on Tiananmen Square, near the Avenue of Eternal Peace,
I believe in the passions of youth,
I believe in eternal spring.
As the white blossoms, sweet harbingers,
pull a wreath around the city,
as heaven spreads its blue indifference over
the bloodied quay, I want to hold you
against the soft silhouettes of my people.
Let me place my mouth over your mouth,
let me breathe life into your life,
let me summon the paired connubial geese
from the far reaches of the galaxy
to soar over the red spokes of the sun's slow chariot
and begin again.

From THE PHOENIX GONE, THE TERRACE EMPTY (Milkweed Editions, 1994)


Poems by Marilyn Chin

Beijing Spring

Hospital Interlude

Tonight while the Stars are Shimmering