no train to china

i'll never give up my history
to assimilate into a culture
that has forgotten its name
a culture whose web
of ancestry.com videos
tries to sell back family history
that was lost
because it was more convenient
not to have to carry ID.
the stories of my people
involve telling white people
with white tongues
how to fill out white papers.
a white stamp on our head
tax certificate: a white lie.
the least wanted:
the most documented
and white i white my story,
50, 100, 150 years later
white letters turn brown
in well-whited archives
listed addresses in the white pages
never white delivered
to village homes
in red china.

still,lost
grandfather's secrets murmur
beneath white
blankets on gold mountain,
under a fresh layer of
white noise.

This poem was inspired by the ACCESS community television broadcast series Uncovering Gold, which discusses Chinese-Canadian migration through a multimedia format. Part 1 can be found here: http://youtu.be/eP5dakbuXG8.

Midnight

Have I always lusted for the past?
Always longed to walk down Rouen
Avec une baguette in tow.
Always wished my present moment
Were coloured and blushed
With the pigment of nostalgic memory
Glossed with centuries-old ink.
Do the shards of heartbreak fester like a quill
Or does the spirit heal over them?
Dissolving like glass into glass.
Until the vase's cracks have reached perfection.
Stained windows, glowing in the moonlight.
A great intelligence, cursed by a speck of sadness.

once and for all

&
patterns
die
slow...

(because)
you didn't know

that when you grabbed him
by the scruff of HIS neck
1, 2, 9, 25 years old

you reached into the present day
and left your red hand marks
on mine


you didn't know

that your one-time abuse
your temper thrown tone
(scraping in my ears
like heavy metal screams)

     would be the
angry echoed yell

banging on walls
adorned with family photos,
printed monet paintings,
&
good luck fortune scrolls

(from nails
your legacy dangles
like vertical paper diaries
folded into
knuckles
and
teeth..


your work,
a porcelain bowl's glaze
dripping and crackling,
reaching perfection
long after
the artist has died..
                             ..)


you didn't know
that
your scolding, frustrated strikes

       would become
the things on the dresser
my dad pushed to
the ground,
burning holes in the carpet
like a coal left on wax:

grandfather-shaped
depressions
i
fell into..

you didn't know that

the bruise
on my
soul


would become
the pain in my girlfriend's smile
the shaken ground upon which i walk
long days of occasional parent fights
going to sleep
with a twisted stomach

4 generations ago,
one carried abuse
passed down
from father to son to son to son

a
pattern
that bleeds
into my present

the history that speaks
and repeats
  and repeats
    and repeats
      and repeats


until  it  is  heard

once
and for all.

In Ancient China, potters adorned their ceramics with glazes that were meant to reach crackled “perfection” generations after they had died, achieving the desirable glassy blue-greens and “robin’s egg” hue. Lined with intentional cracks, this style of artwork entailed the use of a specific glaze that would gradually drip from the rims of clay bowls and settle at the bottom.

paper boat

i

am

already

starting
		)beginning

to forget..



those houses built and raised
by families
children
mothers
below age

growing side by side in rows
in villages
in a billion person economy
a pocket
of home



here
in the new land
we are the friendly neighbours
who-moved-away-neighbours
and 'never returned'
neighbours

the best friend whom you shared
your first kiss
living always
in the past-

a memory
a treasury...


they tried
to remove you,
erase you,
tell you that you don't belong
put you in another town
another
	pocket,

put an ocean between you
and called it separation
'immigration'
	'integration'

it was
humiliation>



but in my heart of hearts
i know
that we are connected by a bridge

a melted ice
land


under sea,

and all i need
is a paper boat.

I wrote this poem today called “paper boat” but in private, I think is more fittingly called “our story.” In it, I’ve tried to tell the story of my family from the reaches of my own perspective which are limited to my knowledge and experiences and position in the family tree. I draw upon childhood images of the “first generation” as it may have been in Seck-Hee as well as how it was for the “first and a half generation” and “second generation” growing up in Canada:

Making paper boats with Grandma.