I highly recommend disconnecting.
I realize the strangeness of telling you this over a connection.
But here comes and goes, so I have to send things when it’s working.
Things are a little rough here.
In cities I am everywhere.
I don’t get lonely. I lose faith that how things are
Are also how things will always be. In forever uphill rising
Streets I have a calling. She calls me from her high-rise
Office at the World Bank to warn me after ten years of this
She’s leaving Hong Kong— leaving the country—
For the week her in-laws visit.
You say for ten years your sister’s just teasing.
You tell me that woman is not blood. This is not to say you
Do not treat me well. You humor me
At the shishi dim sum place
Hidden away like a speakeasy. You eat everything
I order. Often I get a pass others do not. If I have too much
To drink, you say my best thing
Is one face, not two. This is not about saving face.
We get it all out in the open, you and I.
We aren’t the kind to get lonely
When we fight. You say I can’t help but look like things meant
To keep you in line. You say I always take your wife’s side.
We are not bad people. We understand the difference.
Difference is flickering neon until the other loses sight.
Now I’m writing this on the rooftop in a little room
You built without permission, next to a washroom
You built to make me more comfortable. Early this morning
You squeezed through the crowds at the bakeshop
To bring me a red bean bun, right out of the oven.
You remind me fish is only fresh when alive
And gasping. On the rooftop, wild cockatoos
Eat the shishi seed I recommended to you.
You never make it in time to see them.
I want to be a good daughter to you.
But then my mind wanders and Icelandic horses
Disperse through Hong Kong skyline where blood-or-not nieces
And nephews clear out of their six-days-a-week offices.
Poetry, you say, is the furthest, furthest thing from you.
What long lines, where and why they break
You won’t see. Here I have no grievances. I still see the island
In this city, and you correct me: autonomous territory.
Autonomy, we agree, is never real in full nor fully
Realized. I say it’s like coming to know a new
Father. You say one day you want to be yourself
Around me. I say once in cities I was everywhere but here
I write to you in a little room while you make your deliveries.
Dinner tonight at your favorite Vietnamese place
And then shopping in a night market. Only your son,
My husband, would chose such neutral territory.
I study the map to Ladies Market, chart the longest route.
Because you ask me to lead. Because you say nothing
When I take the wrong street. I never ask for help.
You never say we are lost.