The Montains are High and the Emperor is Far Away
The orange costs five mao, the Coke’s one kuai.Postcards, Little Red Book, souvenirsof your climb up Moon Hill? You’re tired. Please sit.Eat more, eat more! Yes, every day I haulthis stuff up here to the peak–alone, since Chao died.I don’t mind hard work. Always a farmer–first when our family farmed the landlord’s fields,then, after Liberation, on collectives.We didn’t starve, even in hard timeswith nothing to eat but sweet-potato stalks.Later, our own plot. But when they madeus sell our vegetables on the free market,we couldn’t earn enough. No sons to help us,and brother had died fighting in Korea,killed by the Am– …fighting in Korea.You–you’re Russian, are you? Oh. The beard.Once, the only foreigners we sawwere Russian men. They all had beards. But nowpeople come from all countries to Moon Hill!And I feed them while they enjoy the view.Another orange? Will you sign my book?Do you have children? How much do you make?
The Trees Greet the Rain
You were gone so long the soil shrank back from our trunks.Many of us fell, our roots having nothingto hold on to. Finding no water, our taprootsstruggled down until they tasted dampat the planet’s molten core.You have come back,as you said you would. We need you no longer.We fear neither termite nor chainsaw. We have drunk somethingimmortal, the Earth told us, and we have a new name:Iron. You can come or go as you will.What can you do to us?
So loud it shattersmy sleep, my time,icy night or summer nooninto shards tinierthan half-erupted teeth.So straight it pissesright in my eye,so urgent it doesn’tcare what it eatsas long as it’s now.So sure it refusesto hide itselfin clothesor words.
Bruce Tindall is a North Carolinian, currently living in Dallas. He left the software industry after 20 years to be a stay-at-home father. His poems have appeared in Plainsongs, Poem, New Delta Review, Cumberland Poetry Review, and elsewhere.
–Naomi Shihab Nye