On the birth of my mother--

                        --for Jen Yong Li Chong

I drank in the night before you came.
A thousand sighs of my blood
filled your ears.

Your heart is a hymn beyond the reach
of my blasphemous voice,
anxious to call for comfort;
but I cannot hold you,
I am trapped by a past of
ancient worries and pride.

But you flower within my dreams still,
and I within yours,
we soared to the stars as twins
and burst through the boundaries our lives;
what was I to do when you stopped
soaring, planted your feet on the earth
just as I leapt over the moon?

I walk past you in heavy slumber,
reading the lines of your yellow-
parchment skin: in it, the brush strokes
of your mother before you reveal
your life in anguished scars.
Today, you carve on my back
the same prophesies as before,
stuffing cotton-candy into my mouth
as I scream and cry.

To open my eyes,
I took two reeds and scratched
two slits on my unformed face--
then, I finally saw you
pour forth from a bloody stream
and I blink to clear
my head, to see you better, to
suck your image back into my brain.

      (It took me six years
      to capture you in my dreams again;
      six years
      to race past time and rescue
      you from warring memories.)

If I could trade in my crazed tongue,
crazed hope, crazed sleep
to bring you forth, lucid and alive,
from the energy that forms my days now--
I would give you so much more
than the tales I weave from rotten silk
and moldy wool of my life, a nation away.

We are women of the womb;
why can't I take you in,
envelop you in folds of vitality
I have left to spare, feed you the
milk I take from others, and present
you to the world anew--
this world of myriad colors and shades
of rest falling like dew from the sky?

But I have no energies left
to carry you into the light,
as you carried me so long ago.
I only have the nights to listen to your voice
and imagine ourselves again,
soaring into the sky with the grace of angels,
soaring out of one another
as one woman to another.

21 March 1993
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Sylvia Chong (schong@hooked.net)