TWO POEMS by Kara Kai Wang
HUNDRED FLOWERS CAMPAIGN
A hundred flowers I lay here for you. A hundred
I have counted. A hundred white rabbits roaming
for a hundred years, a hundred years of moss I will grow
for you. A hundred acres of grassland, on which a hundred
of the wisest willows kneel in your honor. Radishes sprout
above ground, sweet and nutty, a hundred grown in your
name, your names, your hundreds of names. A hundred
executions I will bear for you, a hundred knots of rope,
a hundred buildings I will tie down and bar for you,
a hundred humiliations I will keep from you. For you
a hundred books I will save, a hundred more will read,
read to the hundred paintings hundred song hundred
beat hundred dance. Hundred. Hundred dictators
I will slay for you. Hundred mothers I will return to you.
Hundred exiles, hundred children, hundred fathers
and their fathers, a hundred schools of thought bleeding
from their hundred hands holding a hundred portraits
of Mao on their hundred little hundred red books.
LITTLE CHINESE PALINDROME EATS WATERMELON
Green sonnets of summer arrive in June on the farm,
hues of vine and leaf as far as the eye can see.
Palindrome, given ox and cart, is ordered to harvest the new melons.
Their roundness makes her stomach flutter and fall
and she imagines inside her a moth in darkness, papery wings
searching the empty cavern for husks of rice and tea.
Hours in—the smoothness of melon skin on her arms, the solid thunk
as she lowers it into the cart—the work is almost pleasurable.
Flapping his ears, even the ox seems appeased, lows his shiny coat
in a breeze. On the last row, she spots a melon misshapen,
a long crack down its side. Wings halt against her ribs, the fluttering
stills. It is the first time Little Chinese Palindrome has stolen anything.
That night beneath stars, she splits open the rind, juices running
in a city of pink rivers down her forearms. She feasts
on fruit in fistfuls like a rich peasant girl.
Her belly is a golden gourd.
The next day Palindrome is beaten in the field
with a rod as thick as her wrists.
Her tears grow a land where a drop of blood turns soil
into the straight spines of kings.