The women I love

Kaima, photo taken by my mother. 2010?


She sings jingju on the radio, hangs hand washed laundry on wires by the sun,

laolao the teacher, laolao the selfless, anxious for mouths fed from birth till her back aches from tenderness

ma’ma the healer, studying by candlelight in a war,

catching blood on her sleeve from patients fresh from the battleground

earth shakes with shells from the sky but she stands in the artificial light of the operating room, eyes heavy with sleep

mama, my mama who had dreams beyond the borders of her jiaxiang

carried diasporic son and daughter from pacific to atlantic

Sacrificed her own flesh and blood to lady liberty, who half-smiles in concrete

mama, my mama who once dreamt of poets and canons who does not have a place for those dreams now

These are the women whose songs I carry

from sunrise to sundown I cradle my laolao‘s spine, my ma’ma‘s hands, mama’s dreams ocean to ocean I thank the labor that created me, that shaped me, who I owe my birth

These are the women I love 

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