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A quarterly international literary journal

Echoes of Diaspora

/ Third Place, 2023 Plentitudes Prize in Poetry /

8:44PM, Meijia Wu

the last tour bus pulls away

grandmothers assemble

to stretch by the bridge

feet raised to stone pillar

boomboxes blast

over neighbor's dinners

in a 600-year-old village

for generations they grew

green tea leaves rice terraces whirled

like thumb prints curtains

descend for the eve.

in Lima, it is a new morning

a wok sizzles with chopped peas,

carrots, & greens a chifa owner

yawns from playing mahjong

into the night multicolored buses

painted Bolivar Arequipa rumble by

six years here with his wife

capital city gateway

to their lives dog-eared

Chinese-Spanish dictionary

papers unarrived.

in Havana, grandmothers head to lunch

in La Casa de los Abuelos

greet each other with ¿Cómo estás?

¿Cómo andas? 早晨,早晨!

canes tucked under arms

free hands goalied for embrace

aunties & uncles finish sipping tea

before morning tai qi

a grandfather looks his laminated photograph

in the eyes wonders about his son

tucked between cities.

in Johannesburg, auntie Judy rings up

soy sauce & chili flakes her husband Sing lifts

bags of jasmine rice to restock

their small shop in Cyrildene a new Chinatown

emerged with small restaurants from the north

hand-pulled noodles with local employees

tensions ready to burst across the street

residents shuffle red bags brimming

veggies head home

from Sunday's afternoon stroll

already cooking

in blazing heat.

in Hong Kong, it is night

by the islands of Lantau

fishermen head to bed

boats sprinkled

with buckets of oysters & clams

mangroves accompany them

quietly in the bay water ripples

brush soft bubbles onshore

no need for wall clocks

here, the moon

determines how

deep roots reach.

i stand at the shoreline and stretch

i worry about my country caving in.


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