These poems about family were originally posted on the AsianVoices Website (1997-2004), a site I created that featured poetry and fiction by young Asian writers. I’m now in the process of uploading an archived version of the works that had been published.
Blood of My Own
The hour hand of the clock
strikes three. I find myself
awake, caging thoughts,
catching them on the page
before they fly, as you once would.
Your writings gone
but your blood is my blood.
We meet everyday in these words.
~Jill Chan (New Zealand)
He knows your eyes
only in clouded reverie.
He awaits your birth
with damp, shaky hands.
Soon he is cradling tomorrow.
Your curly black hair,
eyes that colour his.
The mysteries of a smile
on his face.
~Jill Chan (New Zealand)
Sometimes I had the wish
to put you aside
like an old novel.
Sometimes I had complaints
you never let me
move or choose.
Now that I am free
to choose what I’d like
to read and breathe.
The world is so cold
And all the time I feel
how warm you used to be.
~Isabella Chui Sze-ming (Hong Kong)
my aunt and uncle arrive
a three-day drive from California
tomato, pepper, strawberry plants
await a new home in Westerville
(that’s in Ohio)
digging in moist springtime soil
their roots reunite with the earth’s
earthworms extracted entertaining
eight-year-old Justin who laughs
we explore with a magnifying lens
turning over rocks to discover other
crawlers, pill bugs, centipedes—
uncle Hitoshi sits at the table
relaxing with a cold can of beer
and stories emerge from a mind
full of memories
my uncle’s family
was one of the first
where ten thousand once lived
half a century ago, called Manzanar
among mountains of the eastern Sierras
barren dry dusty desert
before the people came—
“scorpions were 12 inches long”
no one believed them
they sent photographs
no one believed them
they sent the scorpions
to the Smithsonian Institution
—the largest ever found
“and centipedes at Manzanar
my uncle holds his fingers apart
with a pause for added drama—
“not three inches long, I tell you
three inches wide!”
that night I dreamed of walking
and walking to discover it closed
returning to desert rocks to find
ghostly centipedes and scorpions
crawling magnified in the moonlight
—their poison still stings
~Wataru Ebihara (USA)
During the Second World War over 100,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were interned. Manzanar, in California, was one of ten internment camps.
The bulging tummy
where I used to sleep is now
a dumpling of flab.
~Laura Lam (Hong Kong)
Another 3am after Work
The restaurant closes at 2am.
Driving home after work,
Father sits by the steering wheel
His stubby, chapped hands slipping off the wheel
As he nods off
His rectangular black-framed glasses
Sliding down his bulbous nose
A 3am chill frosts the car windows
The windshield wipers hum a lullabye of two syllables
My mother sits beside me at the backseat
Her head bobbing up and down as she sleeps
And awakens abruptly,
Her eyebrows furrowed
These faint lines on her forehead do not soften
Even in repose
She sleeps curled into herself
As she has learned to live
Black strands of hair curtain
Her beautiful face,
Undulating with her exhalations
August moonlight flickers across her face,
Caressing, gentle though
Few human hands have been so tender
Listening to my father’s Chinese music tapes playing—
Deng LiJun whispering “Goodbye”
I look out the car window at
The full silver moon
Dipping in and out of the trees, distant
~Janet Si-ming Lee (USA)
The poem and images are excerpts from a Macromedia Director animation which appears in a multi-media CD entitled Si-Ming: Field of the Heart. Her parents’ difficult immigrant experience inspired this poem.Through a series of animated poetry written in English by Janet and in Chinese by her mother Loretta, Si-Ming: Field of the Heart illustrates a cross-generational, bicultural visual dialogue on the Chinese-American and Chinese immigrant experience in the United States.
The answer is in her eyes
She kept her hands delicate, and
Her skin as smooth as silk.
She always looked in the mirror to see whether
Her lips were still red.
She thought, “Long hair is graceful.”
—Her life was hopeful.
The answer is in her eyes.
Shouted. Sobbed. Bawled.
She was not concerned about
Hands, skin, lips and hair again.
The answer is in her eyes.
Today she keeps her body healthy, and
Her arms are as strong as a man’s.
She always looks at the small face, and
Sees the little red lips.
She thinks, “His hair will be shiny.”
—her life is hopeful.
~Laurence Lee Won-ho (Hong Kong)
Dance in the office desk
In the first year of your marriage
Dance in the kitchen drawers
in the years that follow
Dance in this cupboard at this minute
Dance on that table in the next
Skipping the beauty of every night
Dance from here to there
Dance from this minute to the next
ignoring the countless lines you have
forgetting the countless cream you use
It’s you—Mother, your hands
—the treasure of our FAMILY
—the origin of our LOVE
~Lydia Lee Ying-i
straightened my back
he made sure my
perpendicular to my
bolted strait, eyes
on his eyes, fathers
plant respect in sons
at birth, through
the navel and iron seed is
sown and tied with blood
respect dams his tears
of iron thorns, before
must not cry, must not
arch their spine, fathers
iron trees, his hands
open leaves for feet
~Peter Lin (USA)
Framing a Future
drew a frame
and put me in
went by, I
began to fill
a corner came
to nail it shut, but
the wood rotted
and would not
hold my weight
each time I
mend the frame
my fingers bleed
though I try
wood and nails
soak with blood
a seed, her tree, wood
~by Peter Lin (USA)
My father is a commander
a gentleman, a respectable policeman.
I follow his orders
His cheerless face shines with such bad temper
And the acrid smell of two packs a day.
I am at ease;
I know everything he did
contributed to me
~Mak Ho-yin (Hong Kong)
My son denies he is like me,
his dark mysterious eyes avoid mine.
He reveals the hatred of my generation
shrouded behind music, TV and radio.
I want to tell him the truth,
The truth we constantly deny,
where whispers are subdued.
I deny I am like my father I remember why:
He was a slave to his parents,
a prisoner of tradition.
Defiance smothered with the desire
to be that perfect, obedient child.
No, not me! I want to break tradition.
To emancipate myself,
from that clone of generations long gone.
My son denies he is like me,
his eyes, barriers preventing communication.
Nude images of Madonna, Spice Girls and Mariah Carey
flash through his mind, once the temple of purity.
He mirrors my aging.
He has flouted tradition.
~Carl C. Perito (Hong Kong)
This work is based on a poem by Janice Mirikitani: Breaking Tradition.
My grandmother died in your letter:
her cleaving voice terrifying farm suppliers
submissive, paying tribute in small tokens
of accompanying fertilizers—a small price.
her tiny voice whispering into my ear
blurred by mosquitoes, luring this Candide soul
to assured illicit sweetness of an iceball.
her tinny voice, all cut and discordant,
tracking grey reunion dinners with her firstborn,
rice-fed when others wolfed meagre tapioca
in another elsetime.
her voice racked in tobacco-coughing
as her fingers clacked tiles, one hand dangling
the secret cigarette we shared, and the other
gesticulating her preference for maleness to her kakis.
so when her steel voice dictated her will and
final testament, it cracked as her favourite balked,
his maleness shrinking even as his mouth loudly professed
that the expected pact of largess
be divided among his sisters.
her voice is in her only piece of labour:
a dusun of pale coconuts to give flesh
a pond full of fish to give tears
a bed of vegetables, bright with brinjals,
to tide through bitter times
an army of chickens to march
when the spirits are low in essence.
“They will have others to provide”
But that is not enough and our countries
her voice comes together now, singeing
as and when years of lettered guilt, shame, pain,
yellow and curl
in this cigarette lighter flame.
~Tan Tiong-cheng (Singapore)
Break into the room in a mess stealthily
Bewitching cologne seeping
I see he dance
Letter in pink I read absorbedly
A kiss with a sign—Rose
Another Mary, another June, in blue and yellow
Is ire from the loving whispers in the letters?
or the love, time and body shape I’ve sacrificed?
Why can I love you but not kiss you?
The paper on the desk is getting wet.
All the pretty young girls know my existence
As I am always on your wall in the surfaced dimension
Young, charming, satisfied, I wear scarlet hug my babe
Tidying up is my job
Long hair on the bed is not unusual
But some straight some curly makes my eyes freeze
Marrying is the only way to please me
Finish the job close the door
Turn a corner and open the door
Lying on my bed atop a floral pattern
Smelling the medicinal oil on the pillow
Starring at the digital picture on the wall
An old woman sitting next to an eminent looking young man
I am proud with sour
~Kama Tsoi (Hong Kong)
My Dear Grandpa
My dear Grandpa,
You are the devoted husband of my dear Grandma.
Everyone knows that you two love each other
Like a pair of chopsticks working together.
When one is missing,
the better-half is missed forever and forever.
My dear Grandpa,
You are the respected father of a son and four daughters.
Everyone knows that you love one another
Not a single piece can be replaced,
Lest it will spread hither and whither—
The spread of cancer.
My dear Grandpa,
You are our beloved grandpa of four grandsons and one granddaughter.
You are our Santa Claus
who bestows us great affection and love
which will never alter.
You treasure us as oxygen to a patient
who has been struggling against illness
and death for more than ten years.
My dear Grandpa,
May I ask you a question which I have hesitated for years?
Indeed, many people have remarked that you are mixed-blooded.
Yet, your dear granddaughter does like
to have an answer personally from you,
but not another…
How are you, dearest Grandpa?
Are you now accustomed to your new house after these few years?
I think you know that I visit you once a while with Grandma.
She weeps at the front gate every time since she cannot enter,
Holding flowers watered by tears.
My dear Grandma seldom wears laughter on her face.
She mentions everything about you in the present tense.
Meanwhile, I can notice
A few drops of tears
Spilling from her wrinkled eyes.
Throughout these years, she dares not sleep on her own.
She dislikes staying at home alone.
She scatters herself around
To every house of your daughters and sons;
She’s doing everything just like before;
However, cheerfulness cannot be found.
Instead, dear Grandma always looks at the dark sky
With her twinkling helpless blank eyes.
I’m still a good granddaughter of Grandma and you.
We together go to church every week to talk to you.
Have you ever received our news
While you’re sleeping in God’s peaceful field?
I’ll later write to you.
… Well, shall I receive a letter in reply?
~Rachel Wong (Hong Kong)
“I always desired to write a poem in memory of my grandpa—daddy of my mother. He died three years ago in October at Queen Elizabeth Hospital because of cancer. He was very weak and weighed less than 90 pounds when he passed away. He was extraordinary—he did not like traditional Chinese music; rather he enjoyed the pop songs of Alan Tam and Anita Mui. “He was able to play ‘Fur Elise’ without a single mistake yet he had never received a single piano lesson. He had no chance to learn English properly but he was able to talk to foreigners. He liked photography and he had just bought a tripod and two cameras before starting another life journey. He liked to call me ‘my daughter’ while I was very small and I usually corrected him! This is my dear Grandpa John.”
When I think of my grandmother
I see a gentle smile on a tired face
When I think of my grandmother
I hear lullabies in her voice
When I think of my grandmother
I taste the salted chicken that she made
When I think of my grandmother
I smell the weird medicinal oil
When I think of my grandmother
I feel love
~Kama Tsoi (Hong Kong)
It was just another sleepless night. She stepped out from her very warm bed and grabbed the coat on the back of the chair. She felt the icy cold floor. She did not wear any slippers at home, though her mother had insisted that sheo buy a pair. She liked real feeling, without any mediation. She quietly turned the doorknob, not wishing to arouse her sisters. A twin. Sometimes, she felt herself a stranger to them. A room renter. Her twin sisters share things among themselves; laughter, tears, secrets, gossips (hopefully it’s not about her), food, clothing, and everything else. This was what she thought. She was not supposed to be there anyway.
It was so dark everywhere. She lit a candle. They were poor, but they surely had electricity. How could one live without electricity? The most gorgeous invention of the century was electricity, she believed, though she did not know whom she was admiring. She took out a book from her bag, The Severed Head by Iris Murdoch. Only two more days before she had to return it to the library. She opened it to the page where she had stopped that afternoon. No bookmark, but by heart. It had a smell, the smell with age and history. She sometimes wondered the sizes and shapes of the hands that had once hold the same book. Shouldn’t there be some common characteristics shared between these people and her? Somehow, they had chosen the same book! Not the one that stood next to it, but this particular one. But she hated the library books. She hated the smell. The smell of yellow and worn pages. She was also disgusted by the images that one of these people must have brought with him the same book she was reading to the toilet. But what could she do?
To read under the small gloomy light of the candle was not a problem for her. She liked that feeling. To absorb all the knowledge in the book with only candlelight made the knowledge more valuable. Perhaps the writer wrote the book under the same situation. Perhaps.
She seldom went home lately. She lived by herself after graduation. There had been a violent clash when she told them. Blaming her for forgetting her origin, that she was brought up by HANDS. Of course everyone was brought up by hands, what was so special about that?
Continue reading Dai Di: A Story by Marjorie Cheung (Hong Kong)
“Crack! Crack!” A loud sharp sound of smashing glass shocked and slightly awakened me one early morning when I was in Primary 3. I didn’t know what was happening but itwas the first time I had seen my father lose his temper and show his discontent; it was also the last time.
I was surprised at his attitude since he was always good-tempered and never scolded or beat his children; instead he encouraged us for trying our best and doing the right things. Although he rarely puts a smile on his oval face, he is mild and kind. He is a man of few words and is not expressive at all; he will give you only one precise answer for several questions. Thus, although we didn’t spend much time on communication, he still noticed what I needed; I could feel his invisible and precious love.
“You’ve cheated me,” a sharp voice stopped my shock and surprise. “This marriage is a lie! Divorce! Divorce is the only solution!” Mom said.
Continue reading Father: A Story by Flora Pang (Hong Kong)
I had gone over to the houses of almost every relative, most of them to my great relief living in the same city. Who enjoys the prospect of riding a bus for many hours on the bumpy roads of Nepal to meet a distant uncle or aunt? Last week, such was my misfortune that to meet a cousin living in the outskirt of the city as wished by my parents, I had to board a packed local bus. For some strange reasons, every taxi driver demanded far more than the usual fare. Did I look like a son of a rich aristocrat to them? My attire was ordinary—a cotton t-shirt, plain trousers and white canvas shoes.
Now that I was back home, curled up in the bed, happy and relaxed, I was going through the pages of a movie magazine. I thought I had no more close family relatives to visit before my departure to America, but I heard my mother scream from downstairs, “Son, come down. Your father has something very urgent to tell you.”
I knew at that very instant I was again in trouble. “No not again. Please God. I’ve had enough of visits. Spare me.” I mumbled as I descending the stairs and entered the sitting room.
Continue reading My Grandfather: A Story by Rigzin Dekhang (Tibet)
The temperature inside the Happy Ice factory was kept at or below freezing all the time—cold enough to freeze a fly in mid-air. It was the summer I got up at 5:00 in the morning to drive in pitch dark just to get into the parking lot ten minutes before the work horn sounded. It was also the summer my grandpa passed away.
I took the job at the factory because I was unmotivated to reverse my pathetic vocational karma. But shit-kicker jobs like this one padded my bank account just enough to keep supporting my weakness for thick books. It was rare for me to think beyond the uniform, stale present. The future was laid out for me like the transcontinental railroad. All I had to do was stay on track in order to acquire a higher academic degree that would prove to HR people that I am a viable corporate recruit. Such grooming would give me no choice but to be shoved into the daily grind of nine-to-five existence and affixed a title and number and specified use. I felt that if the business world really was so faceless and predictable, at least I would get my licks in harder and quicker by taking on sub-standard, minimum-wage jobs that were honest enough not to hide the fact that I could be replaced as easily as a roll of toilet paper. The bosses feed off the workers, the workers feed off each other, and the apparatus groans for ever more stiff, cold bodies.
Inside the warehouse, if we stood in one place too long, we would quickly develop the first signs of frostbite in our toes and fingers. Even when we did wear the proper attire, the wear-and-tear inflicted upon us by the factory equipment, the ice, the freezing temperature and the physical labor was so great that most of us resorted to wrapping duct tape around the fingers of our gloves and using it to cover rips in our snow suits.
Continue reading Summer Ice: A Story by Minh Allen (USA)
A Bad Day in My Life
Most children live in small families but I have a big one. When I was small, I lived in Macau with my grandfather, grandmother, father, mother, two aunts and two younger sisters. My father and two aunts had to go out to work, so, they did not really “live” with us, they just stayed with us. They were the peripheral members of our family and most things did not concern them. My grandparents seldom went out and seldom talked. I had a very hazy image of them. The only thing I remembered about my grandfather was that he had hairs growing from his ears. Those nasty black wires grew in all directions, filling the whole ear canal. I always wanted to check where was the origin of the hairs but the canal was too dark for any further investigation. I wondered if many people would have this kind of ear hair when they got old. I hoped not. The hairs looked awful. Unlike my grandfather, grandmother was in no way special, she was just fat, but she was nice. The only available adult left was my mother and she was the highest authority in the house. Everyone in the house seemed to listen to her. The only reason I could think of was because she cooked and decided what we ate each meal. Meals were very important. Among our three sisters, mother was especially fond of my second sister. Her name was Na and she was eight.
She was a very obedient girl who always stuck with my mother. Their relationship was symbiotic. When mother was in the washroom, she leaned against the washroom door; when mother was cooking in the kitchen, she prepared herself a stool and sat in front of the kitchen door. If this kind of closeness was the reason why mother was so fond of her, it was logical that mother did not like me. I was two years older than Na. I always tried to avoid mother. I did not want to feel like competing with Na for our mother’s love, or it was because I knew I would lose. My youngest sister, Hing, was too young to understand any of these, she was three and her life was much easier.
Continue reading A Bad Day in My Life by Neosome
“Good morning, class,” the teacher said.
“Good morning, teacher,” the students replied.
I was sitting in front of my mother’s desk just beside the door of the teacher’s room. Outside the teacher’s room was a long wide corridor. Along both sides of the corridor were the classrooms. The corridor was quiet, so I could clearly hear my mother’s voice coming out from one of the classrooms. I was very bored, sitting alone in front of the desk with nothing to do but wait for her to finish her lessons. I knew that after the lessons, my father would join us. We would have lunch together and then most importantly, visit my grandparents’ house, which was in Macau. At that time I had only visited my grandparents’ house once two years before, when I was three.
Time was passing slowly, and the school bell rang. One lesson was gone. The corridor became noisy, everyone was moving around. The world seemed busy. Footsteps and conversations were coming from outside the door. Teachers were going to another room to teach their old lessons, students were flowing to other places to learn their new subjects, and I was still sitting there with nothing to do. In front of me was my mother’s desk, a tall, bulky, gray, metallic desk with bundles of books covering the whole surface. With difficulty, I pushed away some of the books so that there was enough space for me to place my head on top. I leaned forward against the desk to take a rest. In front of my eyes was a clock and a timetable. It was nine o’clock in the morning. There were five more lessons to go.
Time continued to pass. When I was still resting on the table, another school bell rang, and the corridor became noisy again. School bell, followed by the noises in the corridor, school bell, followed by the noises in the corridor. While I was waiting for the next school bell to ring, a familiar but strange rhythm suddenly came into my ears. It was the rhythm of a Buddhist prayer!
I opened my eyes. My mother’s desk had gone! Instead, I found a long table covered by yellow cloth in front. It was not the teacher’s room. “Where am I? What place is this?”
Continue reading A Journey: A Story by Parkin Woo Pak-hin (Hong Kong)
A Dream that Never Comes True
My mother came to my bedroom one cold, dark early morning and woke me up. She said, “Wake up and prepare yourself quickly, your granny has already arranged everything.”
When I saw my granny’s cordial smile, my heart was deeply warmed. Looking at her rosy face and brown curly hair, I could see why many people said that she looked like a westerner. When everything was ready, we began our journey to the Mainland. Since my granny’s brother and sister lived there, she often liked to go back to visit them and help them out. On the way to the train station, I could smell the fresh air and taste the strong, freezing wind. As walked through the station, I took several pieces of luggage in one hand, and I used the other hand to hold my granny’s arm as firmly as possible as I was afraid that I might lose her.
Continue reading A Dream that Never Comes True by Patsy Chung (Hong Kong)
The shop was a labyrinth of high shelves stuffed with colorful boxes of different sizes and shapes. Pretty blonde Barbies, lovely cloth puppets, finely detailed silver cooking utensils, shiny golden heroic robots, the latest pocket-size TV games, miniature grand pianos, exquisite model Benzes, Toyotas, Hondas, Mazdas, Fords … Laughter from excited children filled the air, along with their parents’ caring gentle voices and Christmas carols—how sweet! The place was undoubtedly a paradise for children, except for me perhaps. instead of hugging a newly bought toy out of the shop, what I brought out was disappointment, jealousy and tears.
One cold Sunday noon before Christmas, I went shopping with my family as usual. To be more accurate, I should rather say ‘hanging around’ instead of ‘shopping’. My dad didn’t buy me anything—no clothes, no toys, no sweets. He said that since I was a primary three student I shouldn’t make any more silly requests for toys and I had to behave myself. Was I too big to own toys really? I wondered. Every Monday, my classmates had the habit of comparing what their parents bought them on Sunday. I kept silent whenever they discussed this topic.
As we stepped into this wonderland, I lowered my head and stared at the floor.
“Mom this way, see what a nice mini-supermarket! With a cashier, notes and coins., cans and corn … I want this!” said my younger sister.
“Oh child, this one is too expensive. Look at those doctor’s instruments, you can play with your little brother…”
Continue reading Wonderland: A Story by Jess Yim (Hong Kong)
What does the word ‘mama’ mean? A lady who gives birth to babies? The one who nurtures little children into great men? A person who owns your flesh and blood?
A soft voice, sincere face, caring eyes, gentle hands, concerned personality, someone who take cares of our meals and our clothes, who helps us with our homework, guides us through our love affairs and to our marriage… is this the description of every mom?
My mom seemed to be an exception.
My mom always scolded me; even the slightest mistake would be viewed as seriously as an unforgivable crime. My mom never helped me study for any dictations, quizzes, tests or exams, and she sent me away whenever I asked a single question. My mom never showed appreciation for any of my achievements, from a mark of 100 in a dictation to winning a prize in an art competition. To her, nothing I did seemed to be worth praise. My mom always kept me at home, didn’t let me go to my classmates’ birthday parties, join school camps or picnics, participate in extra curricular activities … I felt like a wild-bird confined in a cage.
Continue reading Mama?: A Story by Jess Yim Ka-mei (Hong Kong)
I Feel Her Love
The description and impression of mothers that I get from many stories and from other families is that they are warm and tender, courteous and amiable. A mother will treat their children well and give all of her best to her children. I had been jealous of those children because they could get their mother’s care every minute but my mother ……
She seemed to ignore my existence. She would go out early to prepare for her lessons and assist her students. Normally, nighttime is the time for mother and son to reunite happily, but every evening she was engrossed in her further studies. Occasionally, she would raise her head from a hill of books and watch me for a while, perhaps with a little regret. I remember when I was a child, I always wanted to sit in front of her so that she might watch me longer but this strategy never succeeded. Our eye contact was always blocked by the books. If my mother was not immersed in her books, then she would go out and help her students and let me stay in the house alone. I ‘guarded’ the house and just stared at the feeble light of the lamps. Fear was all that I felt and my pillowcase was always damp with tears. The only time I could feel my mother’s care was in the morning. Every morning, when I went to school, she would say, “Take care!” Or when I was home, she would say, “Oh, your are back. Have you finished all your homework?”
Continue reading I Feel Her Love: A Story by Kevin Ling (Hong Kong)
I just received my Aunt Qi Xiang’s letter. She told us about her life recently and about how she would complete her accounting course the next month. We all congratulated her. My Aunt Qi Xiang is 56 years old now. She has one son, a 26-year-old businessman and a daughter who is 23 years old and is studying in university. My aunt has worked as an accounts clerk in a grain store in a city of Guangdong in Mainland since she married a city man.
When I was a young girl my mother always told me about Aunt Qi Xiang’s life and character. My mother also appreciated her. I love my aunt very much. I remembered that once my mother told me that my aunt had a frightening experience.
One day, my aunt was riding a bicycle with a big heavy sack of rice tied to back of the bicycle. When she was crossing a bridge, she lost control of the bike and fell off the bridge into a deep, rapidly flowing river. Although she landed on rocks in the river, she did not quit. She swam to the river bank using all of her effort. Fortunately she was saved. However, her nose was no longer straight and pointed. She now has a snub nose with a half-inch scar on the right side. She always says, ” I have lost my only pride.”My aunt is kind and thoughtful. She once asked for a week’s leave to take care of my mother while my mother was recovering from minor surgery. She likes helping people too, so she always carries sacks of rice for clients.
Continue reading My Aunt: A Story by Doris Yim Cheung (Hong Kong)
I sometimes feel as though I have my life completely figured out. But then something causes a large break, like a rock thrown into a small pond. Then life churns around and I wait for it to settle once again. Pictures of friends and family cover the walls of my bedroom to remind me of the people I care about. One photo posted to the wall has become yellow with time, and the smiles on the photo are slightly distorted by specks of white, the colours removed by fingers trying to feel the faces and bring them into reality. This picture captured a moment I remember vividly. Grandpa was teaching me how to climb a tree and eh would catch me whenever I fell. My grandmother had been there to take a photo of the event. My hair was waving in the wind, grandpa’s strong arms were raising me up in a celebratory fashion. He stood very tall, like a strong soldier with the will to match his physical power. But if one looked closely, his eyes were cold, clear and left an impression of hollowness. I wanted to know what he was thinking about at that time, but I never did find out.
The last time I ever saw those hollow eyes was during Form 1. It seems longer than six years ago, if I had known the future I would have done so many things differently.
“Grandpa, what are you doing? How did you get here? Does dad know?”
Continue reading A Photograph: A Story by Benny Lam Kit-pun (Hong Kong)
How are you now? I miss you very much. I could not sleep well these last few days. Every time I close my eyes, I see your sorrowful face. My tears fall and I feel tired.
This morning I went to school as usual, but I could not pay any attention in class. I thought I did not belong there. When my classmates were laughing and playing around, I felt uncomfortable and angry with them because they did not notice that I was unhappy. After lunch my form teacher gave me a card that was encouraging. He told me the story of the footprints in the sand and said that he would help me pass this time of sorrow.
I remember your last night. On Wednesday night, I cried before going to sleep. I did not know the reason for crying; maybe it was a sign to warn me that you would leave us on that night. At One O’Clock in the morning, the phone rang and we all woke up to receive the bad news. The phone ring was the most annoying one that I had ever heard because it took you away. At the hospital, we cried loudly beside you, but you did not answer us. You looked too tired to face the world. You did not say a word, but your tears meant everything. They meant that you were not willing to leave us. You were so happy to be free and you were saying goodbye to us. I made a promise to you and I’ll keep it forever.
Continue reading Two Letters: A Story by Theresa Chow (Hong Kong)
AsianVoices Archives: These poems were originally posted on the now-defunct AsianVoices website (1997-2007), which featured poetry and fiction by young Asian writers. Copyright belongs to the original authors. If you are the writer and would like to remove, add or edit this work, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will promptly carry out your request.
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Poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction about family
Poems and stories about love and heartbreak
Delicious poems and stories in celebration of food
Poetry and prose about death and remembrance
Poems and stories about innocence and experience
Poems and stories about self-reflection and spirituality
Poems, stories and articles about school life and education
Poems about travel and transportation
Poems and articles about places
Poems, stories and drama about the creative process
Poetry, prose and drama about everyday life
Poems and stories by and/or for younger readers