We Are Americans Now, We Live in the Tundra
Today in hazy San Francisco, I face seaward Toward China, a giant begonia— Pink, fragrant, bitten By verdigris and insects. I sing her A blues song; even a Chinese girl gets the blues, Her reticence is black and blue. Let’s sing about the extinct Bengal tigers, about giant Pandas— “Ling Ling loves Xing Xing…yet, We will not mate. We are Not impotent, we are important. We blame the environment, we blame the zoo!” What shall we plant for the future? Bamboo, sassafras, coconut palms? No! Legumes, wheat, maize, old swine To milk the new. We are Americans now, we live in the tundra Of the logical, a sea of cities, a wood of cars. Farewell my ancestors: Hirsute Taoists, failed scholars, farewell My wetnurse who feared and loathed the Catholics, Who called out Now that half-men have occupied Canton Hide your daughters, lock your doors!
From Dwarf Bamboo. Copyright © 1987 by Marilyn Chin. Used with the permission of the author.