Poetry & Writing

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Sunday night in the living room

my grandmother reads The Chinese Times

with a cracked magnifying glass

and one lamp. She does this every Sunday

when my mother and the other children

are not around, and I lie on the couch,

quiet so as not to disturb her contemplation.

Today, she will think back to a time

when at eighteen, delicate,

useless for the village,

she is married off

to a country herb doctor.

In his village, she could not carry

a child in her arms and two buckets

of water from her shoulders,

did not know how to walk

through a rice field without slippers.

But she delivered children, house to house,

even after she had seen her brother-in-law

kneel on broken glass, and beaten

so brutally with a steel rod, that afterwards,

he hanged himself from an iron gate,

or even after she had heard the news

that two evenings before, during a curfew,

a Japanese soldier had shot

a pregnant woman

crawling across a wide dirt road

because he thought she was a pig.

The babies, hard births—

the urine, blood, and waste

so thick on sheets, she had to smoke

to keep from retching—

she delivered for a bunch of dried vegetables,

a bag of rice, even nothing.

                                                                        Priscilla Lee

My Grandfather, Grandmother, and Father around 1941

My Grandfather and My Grandmother in the 1950's.

Photo my Grandma sent to my Grandpa when he was in the US and she was in China or Hong Kong. It took 7 years before they were reunited.

My Grandmother in Las Vegas with her favorite slot machine in 1997.