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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, April 19, 2016.
About this Poem 

“In Beijing, a student  named Lin gave me a vase of huge, gorgeous peonies for my birthday. I went away for a few days and returned to a disaster! The peonies had wilted so terribly that they made me cry. Alas, the shock of recognition. Buddha warned us about ‘old age, sickness and death.’  All living beings, poets and peonies alike, must meet our eventual demise!”
—Marilyn Chin

Peony

Why must I tell you this story, O little one
You’re just a bud-of-a-girl, who knows nothing

Now you are full-faced, bright as sun
Now you open your skirts pink, layered, brazen

Suffering is alchemy, change is God
Now you droop your head, heavy with rust

Sit, contemplate, what did Buddha say?
Old age, sickness, death, no one owns eternity            

Detach, detach, look away from the sun
Let your petals fall aimlessly                 

Don’t despair, little one, we are done
 

Copyright © 2016 by Marilyn Chin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 19, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Marilyn Chin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 19, 2016, 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 five poetry collections, she currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem
            The prince speaks

Let me lower the curtains, my love
   Our last night together is brief
Let me straighten our wedding quilt
   And warm it for you, my love

Let me fold your nightgown, my love
   Let me unfasten your hair
Let me lift the veil from your face
   To see my bride’s last cry
poem
Soak in a hot bath;
arrange my futuristic hair,
then, the futon & the cushioned tatami.
Cut orchids, cut fruit.
Set the table for plenty,
(but there is only one of me).
And here you come—
a cricket’s dance in the woods—
in a fog-colored zoot suit.
Your eyes are red & bleary.
I am practicing good
poem
There was blood and guts all over the road.
I said I’m sorry, darling, and rolled over,
expecting the slate to be clean; but she came,
she who was never alive became resurrected.
I saw her in a dream…a young girl in a qipao,
Bespectacled, forever lingering, thriving
on the other side of the world,