Alison Wong


plane leaves turn, begin
to fall—a migrant sweeps
with a sorghum broom

others plant Golden Week
flowers—purple yellow
red flags in the breeze

over smooth stone paving
a calligrapher paints, dips
his long brush

with water

zuo zuo zuo yihuir
sit sit sit awhile

a white butterfly, a black butterfly

erhu, wooden flute
in the pavilion a man, a woman

sing Heaven’s Road

camphor trees now bereft
of cicadas—I hear

fathers plant a tree
at the birth of each daughter

watch them grow, fashion
a camphorwood chest

I have no daughter

along the wide path—mothers
fathers grandmothers chatter

over advertisements
for marriage clipped
to open umbrellas

male born 1989 Shanghai residency
something I cannot read

moral character something I have
to look up in the dictionary

female born 1983
US post-graduate studies?
own apartment something

seeking moral character
something something

a man appears, speaks
in dialect something something

but I am only reading—please
I am trying so hard to read

something something something he says
moral character something

Does he think I am here for my son?

Ni duo da? he asks—How old are you?
You laogong ma?—Have you a husband?


You, I say—I have

Sorry sorry sorry his first words in English

someone is taking a photograph
someone is having a photograph taken

the calligrapher is still

something evaporates

like morning

Author’s Note


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