Bai Hua

There is a child in China.
I do not speak her language,
she does not speak mine.
What I hold are clippings
of her life in translation.
The day she admitted she had
something to say, someone wrote it down.
Rice could make the classroom beautiful.
She painted what the marker
could not sustain. Making beauty last:
Bai Hua’s feet turn in as if she is traveling
into herself. In the off-kilter distance
faded in afternoon light she stands
slightly bent, one arm raised as if
she’d just thrown something
at the camera, or changed
her mind and wanted to erase
what was already said.
I know the metal taste of alone.
I would like to send Bai Hua my own
progress report for Spring 2004.
Sage has learned to ask for the colored rice,
it would say, but realized she no longer
needed it. She has stopped trying so hard
to camouflage her fear.


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