The River Merchant’s Response to His Wife After Traveling Centuries Through Time to the Present Day

Photograph by Jose Padua
I imagine the gardens overgrown with mosses
and the once brightly colored butterflies now
drab as the dirty air and drone of traffic idling
on massive highways and never moving
and never making decisions worth making.

I sail slowly now, my fingers feeling
brittle like dry bamboo,
and lower my eyes to the boat’s deck
because the river is overrun with a kind of dying.

But I remember your hair with its beautiful
shade of evening, its scent as if you’d washed it
in the juice of ripe plums and how you never laughed
until we were mingled like the sound of the monkeys
that climbed from tree to tree, then tired
and limped to the ground to feed and rest.

If I could make it through the old water narrows
to meet you at Cho-fo-Sa,
I would,
but I am being called away again
to the factory outside the city,
and you are long gone,
and every day feels like winter
even though I never seem to grow old and
never lose my appetite for Xinjiang wine.

-Jose Padua

Photograph by Jose Padua
Originally published at Vox Populi

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