November 1, 2017 orangeq2017

Love Poem

I think of my mother now
Who tells me she's never been in love
"Oh, I knew it existed
In other countries -- wrapped in gold foil
Like fancy chocolates in a boutique shop
When I was 16, I read about it
In a contraband French novel,
Balzac's Nana, with a flashlight under covers
My face burned hot and cold all night 
I thought it was the best stuff in the world
How your whole body could be set in flames
But in those sorrowful days
When my family was trod underfoot
How could you afford such costly feelings?
To trust in anyone who did not share your blood
Was a sure sign of insanity
Our love was like that of burrowing animals
Fretful and full of anxious care
Wanting to eat and afraid of being eaten
This was my love for your father
I loved his broad shoulders, his hard hands
Tempered by rage, that could shield me
From the cruel winds, though I knew
Those same hands would also turn against me
This, too, is the love we bore for you
Silent, fretful and afraid to say its name."
Now in a country where it bubbles everywhere
Fizzy sweet like sodapop
This, too, is the love I bear
Silent, shy and laden with the stubborn longing
Of many who never knew tenderness
A sprig of wildflowers plucked
Bright and innocent from the soil
Fed with how many ancient tears


Mike Zhai was born in Shanghai and grew up on the West Coast of the United States. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and is the founder and facilitator of One Pause Poetry Salon.


Read more Mike Zhai poems published in Orange Quarterly:

Bart to SF

Lunch Poem 6/23/14


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