Hearsay

 
They say you sang like an angel
on that island in the bay
where foghorns drowned out
nighttime murmurs : children’s 
names recited, prayers to deaf
dumb gods, poems chiseled into
barrack walls, lives left out 
in the rain.
 
I heard them say I have your giggle
and your preference for peaches.
I never touched your flesh or face
but this is what I gather:
From Fat Yuen to Gold Mountain,
from girl to wife now claimed, 
tides ferried you from village 
hearth to far foggy days. 
 
The island where the angels weep 
nabbed you just offshore. Offered 
a thin blanket, cold rice, 
interrogations, and a dreary 
three month chill. Finally you 
and Gong Chow found a spot 
to land on. You served up rice 
to sailors and to homesick fellows 
hungry for your song.
 
My mother June, your feisty first, 
Roslyn and David followed.
Restaurant shiny, children strong,
then came the day to return, 
history called you home to China. 
June refused to go along and kept 
Roslyn too. The clouds and tides 
that brought you here, ushered 
you back through.
 
Within two years word arrived
Gong Chow died in China 
like he wanted. One month later 
on a whisper you too passed 
away. Especially on misty days 
I listen for your song:
 
I know your fathoms of despair,
your gentle grasp on pleasure. 
The peace of spirit that you seek
encompasses all in-betweens,
measures life in graces. Though
ocean tides rip heart from heart, 
the interwash of time and tide 
returns us deep to deep. 
 
(c) Deborah Jang. All rights reserved.
2010, River, Blood, and Corn: A Community of Voices