MRT © 蔚雅風

In the long perfect tube of the subway
up and down I am almost the tallest person
standing, looking into the ads, seeing what
I can see in the characters, two mountains,

"Chinese Girl" by Vladimir Tretchikoff
“Chinese Girl” by Vladimir Tretchikoff

one atop the other telling us to leave,
two fingers walking along like legs to say
person, like me or all the eyes I think are
staring into my skin, this political black,
a stamp over the real ginger orange my chest
is under the clothes, or the breach from dark
to light that happens if you pull my collar
down, the dark spots under the hair on my back
that is a whole project to see, how I have
to turn around in the mirror before a shower
to twist my spine just enough to see why
I should exfoliate more, and I remember the hair
is from my mother’s side, and I remember
my mother was ginger orange like my father.

Being is filling the sack of something, knowing
yourself as a space, having mind take over
everything, ignoring the tubes and liquids
that give it something to drive, the mind driving,
stopped only by pain, and the train keeps pain
away from us, as perfect a machine as Chinese
genius can make, no undue slap against the rails
like Boston’s T, or the horror of underground
cities in New York, this is the Swiss ticking
of time in a life where I hide in the language,
bury myself in memorizing a writing that is
the opposite of abc, the american born colors
like blackness and whiteness holding Asian inside
a talking mirror that lets these staring eyes believe
what American hatred would teach them,
the sickness of the place where I was born.

stanza break

We slide into a new station, and I turn to see

Art by Leo Tzu
Art by Leo Tzu

no one is looking at me, no one is wondering
more than what there is for them to wonder, how

to get to work on time, what work to do, where
to buy the children’s shoes, what woman
is sleeping with a husband, what mother is ill,
all the things that take the strings of life and make
embroidery, the ties that connect and bind us,
and I am left with my own feelings, nowhere
to attach them, no bulletin board to post a cause
for despair or anger, locked in the flow this way,
blending in as much as the difference of skin,
hair, measures of difference, each one hanging
a melodic phrase in a symphony or jazz set,
or the single pluck of a pi pa for the blues.

Afaa Michael Weaver

Afaa Michael Weaver is a poet, writer and lecturer. Weaver’s 11th collection of poetry, “Like the Wind” has been translated into Arabic as part of the Kalima project. “MRT” is from the third manuscript in his trilogy, which includes the highly acclaimed “The Plum Flower Dance” (2007) and his latest masterful work “The Government of Nature” (2013).

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