tuck into the dark, a rolled up sleeve,
a luggage pocket,
numbers scrawled on a paper scrap,
they bite and harden the hope
you cradle in a new land.
The sounds scrape—
cold fingers press cat gut strings
against a narrow neck
Horsehair pulled taut.
The discord and pitch
a glorious freedom.
You breathe tiny clouds
suspended in a cold garage.
A violin returned.
Music a family could never understand.
You fled with vengeance.
The gray shoreline with the sky
bends to the surface
calls you home.
You show our son the church
that could not break your spirit.
Watch him roll down hills
of black and beige stones,
run across a pitch of green so wide
your heart aches.
You want him to know this land,
this town, this family
who thought you both strange and a stranger,
The fright of difference paralyzes.
Here I dive into newspapers and books,
make puddings and roasts.
I come to this land
a visitor, a tourist, your wife.
We inhabit a third together.
An Empire’s demise determined my life
though you rejected its crown, its god,
and adopted nothing to replace it.
And so, in this purgatory,
a place borrowed and returned,
we stay handcuffed to glass towers and commerce,
indifferent, restless, curious.
Geography opens, continents remain.
Expatriates at the mercy of memory
harnessed by clocks, dollars, and duties,
the scramble to become,
in search of a place
to call home.
Stephanie Han (MA, MFA) lives in Mui Wo, Hong Kong. Her fiction/poetry featured in Kyoto Journal, Louisville Review, South China Morning Post, Nimrod International Literary Journal, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and the anthologies PEN West Strange Cargo, Asian American Women Artists Cheers to Muses. Work is forthcoming in the following anthologies: The Queen of Statue Square: New Short Fiction from Hong Kong, Tao of Parenthood, and How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit?: True Stories of Expat Women in Asia. Ampersand poems are excerpts from an unpublished poetry collection, Expatriate.” Contact: www.stephaniehan.com.
Photo by seeker-of-revelation, used by permission. See more of his work on DeviantArt.