I was born in a shadow country
Of roofless temples smudged with smoke,
Where even the roadside shrines
Sat jilted, their chintzy dioramas
Strung with strands of christmas lights
That lit the paths of small tin soldiers
Shouldering their guns into darkness
To hollow drums and distant music.
O sing, cicada, sing…
I grew up in an abandoned hotel.
I had the run of ruined colonnades,
Great lengths of unlit corridors
Where sheets of snake-green paper
Curled from the plaster walls like skin.
In spacious empty rooms I learned
The grey waltz, the shadow reel
Beneath extinguished chandeliers.
O look away, indeed…
One day I found this unshined sword,
Ghost-gifted secret gleaned behind
The very last door in the hall.
So I’ve held it close like a story,
Clutched to my heart like a song,
Because the time may come, my child,
That we must cast aside the scabbard
And learn at last to sing again.
O my home, my country…