poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, July 10, 2017.
About this Poem 

“I wrote this poem for my father, to send him a prayer by way of loving contemplation. As poetry is a practice of sustained revision and betterment, so is the act of being my immigrant father’s daughter. I honor him by revisiting myself.”
—Wendy Xu

Looking at My Father

It’s the inside which comes out, as I contemplate
him there half in sunlight, weeding diligently
a Midwestern lawn. On my persons, I have only notes
and a drying pen, the memory of onion blossoms
scenting in a window. Reflection is my native medium.
I am never arriving, only speaking briefly on material
conditions between myself and others. My country
inoculates me lovingly, over time. My country grasps me
like desire. I will show you my credentials, which is to say
my vivid description, if you ask. Here we are, my father
and I, never hostile, a small offering: pointless cut flowers
appear on the kitchen table when one finally arrives
into disposable income. Still possible. Am I living? Do I
accept revision as my godhead and savior?
I do and I am, and in the name of my Chinese father now
dragging the tools back inside, brow shining but always
a grin, faithless except to protect whatever I still have time
to become, Amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Wendy Xu. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 10, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Wendy Xu. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 10, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Wendy Xu

Wendy Xu

Wendy Xu is the author of Phrasis (Fence Books, 2017) and You Are Not Dead (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2013).

by this poet

poem

I commune with the text by way of railing against the text

The molecular processes of you are never finished

I move through air in the early fall, a cooling spittle, high heat
      days are gone

When the troops leave the replica city, you see that its
      battlements are written in

2
poem

An absence declares
its blunt self. I can’t believe the extent
of my luck, heard twice, like violets
in a bath of lukewarm water.
The city was my father’s though none
of its sweetness appears here living
before you. A strong instrument.
A blowing on the hands
and neck. A

poem
The diagnosis was god, twice a day until the spirit
untangles itself. I took a trip into unscripted
days past, teenagers submit to the window an open
facing yawn. A walnut fell into the grave
of my loved one and stayed there beating patient
like a word. I was still unmoved by disbelief watching
my father mumble
2