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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, November 21, 2017
About this Poem 
“This immigrant couple’s entire history is told in just five triplet stanzas. I didn’t use punctuation, just spaces so that the reader could pause between breaths, to briefly take in the different stages of their life together. This might be a typical American story: an immigrant couple gets married, the husband gets a good job (an iron rice bowl), they conceive children, grow old, die peacefully in their new nation. However, their story does not quite end in harmonious resolution. A love story is a never-ending drama.”
—Marilyn Chin
 

Love Story

The aerogram says come      the photos show bliss
Another felicitous union      a fresh beginning
He’s so handsome fat      she’s so new world slim
 
The envelopes are red      the writing vermeil
He’ll get a good job      an iron rice bowl won’t break
She’s caught a princely man      a silent one      like her father
 
Sister dyes pink eggs      Auntie boils cider knuckles
The Great Patriarch is happy      a bouncy grandson
A bundle of joy      from a test tube in heaven
 
Thank you for your blessings      for your lucky lycee
A young nurse cares for her now      in a small hospice near the sea
He’s alone on Silicon Hill      that’s where he’s happy
 
Emails turn silent      Instagrams      remiss
Thank you for the white gardenias      they’ll sweeten her soul
The joss paper boats      will net fish for her in the next world
 

Copyright © 2017 by Marilyn Chin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 21, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Marilyn Chin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 21, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Marilyn Chin

Marilyn Chin

Marilyn Chin was born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon. The author of six poetry collections, she currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem
The dead piled up, thick, fragrant, on the fire escape.
My mother ordered me again, and again, to sweep it clean.
All that blooms must fall. I learned this not from the Dao,
   but from high school biology.

Oh, the contradictions of having a broom and not a dustpan!
I swept the leaves down, down through
poem
One child has brown eyes, one has blue
One slanted, another rounded
One so nearsighted he squints internal 
One had her extra epicanthic folds removed
One downcast, one couldn't be bothered
One roams the heavens for a perfect answer
One transfixed like a dead doe, a convex mirror
One shines double-edged like a
poem
Today in hazy San Francisco, I face seaward
Toward China, a giant begonia—

Pink, fragrant, bitten
By verdigris and insects. I sing her

A blues song; even a Chinese girl gets the blues,
Her reticence is black and blue.

Let’s sing about the extinct
Bengal tigers, about giant Pandas—

“Ling Ling loves Xing Xing…