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!