Tiger Hill: China Poems

Tiger Hill

A selection of poems from this volume won an Individual Artist's Fellowship from the Montana Arts Council in 2001.


The backs of both hands ache
from dozens of needles
easing the penicillin, drop by drop,
into my veins.
I am glad this day is over,
I say to myself.

"The loneliness you have felt in this hospital
thousands of miles from your home,
we Chinese must accept for a lifetime
in order to be safe,"
a friend tells me.

I think of the scorched legs
of the last tigers in China
torn from their shoulder and hip sockets
and sold as "medicine" on the pavement
next to the Friendship Store;
of Ba Jin, dragged from his home,
forced to kneel on broken glass
in the People's Stadium
while he confessed his "sins,"
and yelling out,
"You have your thoughts
and I have mine.
That is the fact
and you can't change it
even if you kill me."

I hope the water chestnuts
I bought from the woman by the bridge,
her husband sorting them in their small boat,
have not spoiled in my cupboard.
I must remember the old woman
who saw me shuffling along behind the nurse:
"You are very tired?" she asked,
and blessed me with a deep bow.

                   Huadong Hospital,  Shanghia, 1991