The Dreamer

I. potatoes

hungry bonfires

gaping dragon maws and red hot eyes

he slashes the earth, plays cat and mouse chasing

that final drop of sweat

his body is shaped by cicada years and freshly caught

crabs and the lack of chocolate

a taste he still does not enjoy

school comes first but

soccer follows and when he plays he can almost

kick the bridge of the moon

and take the ropes of moonlight

and bask in the celestial glory knowing that he is

a certified future and

when the game ends,

his hungry mind returns to

ember-fueled studies

piping-hot he burns the fields down

he consumes the sun to work

another day


II. trains

he goes to a place

untouched by his brothers and sisters

separated only by a few hundred miles and

the disappearance of fresh morning dew

he learns the taste of mapo tofu

spicy is new but so are the days of

closed doors in the library and open gates in the city

he becomes a new man,

meets mama and is wed in three months

plows through university

research in Hawai’i and purple sweet potatoes are good but

not enough

he takes the train back to his family

gets a seat when he’s lucky

stands

on his own shoulders

when he’s not


III. silver rings

he told me that we come from royalty

kings and generals from two wing-spans ago

once, under siege, he said the general

fattened up the bulls with the last of the city’s food which,

shaped like the enemy,

trained the bulls well and then the general

attached knives and sent them out

he told me that we come from clever thinking

and when the red floods came they buried our family’s heritage

in the safe hands of their original owners

moon pearls, night calligraphy, and

silver rings

and when the red locusts came

moon pearls became money and calligraphy became warmth and

silver rings became life

he taught me that my name is the legacy

of long lost jewelry


IV. the german physics professor

Utahan mountains replace Taishan

he is alone, I am in the pomegranate and

one-child-policy void of

nothing

mama and gege are in infancy

stuck in the whirlpool of

fluent in Chinese, but thinking of Salt Lake City

he cooks for himself now

pork meatballs and cabbage, when he can

dreams of white-picket fences, when he can’t

beer flows from the stores, but even that is deceiving

and bittersweet

oh, root beer.

he learns nothing in class,

is a PhD student but can’t make out the

endless lines of

sauerkraut and bratwurst and

advanced physics in the heart of arches and canyons

in the land of Seinfield

he learns everything, alone


V. he loves our cat just as much as I do

he is stubborn,

refuses to admit what we all know

eats too much of mama’s bread and

pretends to offer it to us but

we let him because

it’s good to see him smile and because

we know he would give his favorite bread to us

if we asked

and when we finally adopt Ivy

he tells me of his favorite childhood kitten

who fought off the Rat King

and I make a secret promise

to become even better than that

and when he thinks nobody is watching

I’ve seen him coddle Ivy like the rest of us

thank you dad

I love you