An Emigrant’s Winter


That winter, water froze in the pipes
and the faucet wheezed like asthma.

Icicles teethed along the power line,
I opened my mouth and my speech stuttered.

The entire city lived in a snow globe,
even big men trod timidly in the wind, hiding their faces
like shamed felons caught by the TV camera.

The market sold out everything,
a young boy snatched the last pack of meat.

Sleet fell all night, tapping
on the windows the way the dead might.

In my dream I went back to the house
that had forgotten about me,
not one there asked how I’d been.

But I sat with them just the same,
watching TV like I had never left.

Who will remember what, who can say?

Mornings punctured by sounds of dragging snowplows,
I peeped at the sun, the feeble white disc,
failed again to burn off the clouds.

It was so cold I could think of fire
and only fire.

Previously published in decomP magazinE.

Pui Ying Wong was born in Hong Kong. She is the author of a full-length book of poetry Yellow Plum Season (NYQ Books, 2010) and two chapbooks: Mementos and Sonnet for a New Country. Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and Best of the Web and Best of the Net editions.

Object(s) to bring back to life: “I wish there were still a Yau Ma Tei ferry boat; I loved riding on one when I was a girl in Hong Kong.”