The following is one of four poems by Wendy Xu featured in Conjunctions:76, Fortieth Anniversary Issue.
List of Forgivenesses
The children I was, the chemical bitten
green of their sadness, who watched
the generational assembly of prior
knowledge, whose shame formed somewhere
over the neon ocean. Sorrow is ever
inelegant, the squat concrete faces
that greeted them. Not knowing where
to pass the salt at endless
Christian tables. Whose hand to hold,
whose tongue, yearlings stalking
the wilted margins of America.
Light through trembling fingers
of foreign trees. Who once cut
their hair tight black and straight
across the forehead. Whose blood
was dark as soy, vinegared
cabbage, radish root.
The hours adrift in someone’s
blue eye, the humble light
that carried them there.
The tragedies I thought I was.
The slow burn of moonlight
each night, up there patiently
unbelieving in itself.