The following is originally intended for a short story, and now I make it into a poem.
Dear, now I am in your parents’ for the Mid-Autumn.
All of your family have come together, except for you,
And this makes me the center of attention.
Your parents’ thatched house is small and cozy,
And when we sit down around on benches and low stools,
We can all touch and reach each other in a circle.
The broad smile has never subsided on your mum’s wrinkled face,
And she has been chastising your laziness and incapability of cooking,
To which I convince her by naming the dishes you can do
And your gladness to wash plates and bring us fruits after meals.
I love her love for you in her voice,
And I love her sincere gratitude she feels toward my taking care of you.
Your daddy likes to know more about our daily life,
Especially the schooling of our children,
Which he can relate more than your research.
He does not understand
Why the foreign currency is more expensive than Renminbi
And is surprised to learn that we buy sweet potato leaves
At the price which can buy equal amount of pork in the countryside.
He says that those leaves have always been the food for pigs,
And your sister, the youngest and dearest to all your brothers,
Teases that I am too a pig-raiser, when your sisters-in-law break in,
Saying that when you come back next time they will too feed you like that.
They come to announce that the meal is ready,
And we all move outside,
To the eight-immortal table mounted with a round turning tabletop,
Which is placed under an open shed attached to a big phoenix tree.
On the table, plates and bowls of cubed pork, chickens, fish and meatballs
Stewed with different colors of vegetables crowd together,
Like a meeting of many obese people in the playground under our condo.
Your sisters-in-law are apologetic for not knowing how to cook to my taste,
And your brothers have already filled the cup with liquor,
Asking me to take it easy, but also joking that I should drink on behalf of you.
Then they toast, to your daddy, and I raise my cup to join,
As everyone has to do to a senior.
I bottom up the first, and the custom requires
I “drink to the lees” the first around of three cups,
Before I may find excuses for not drinking more.
I know women married to the family are not to be seated at a formal dinner,
But still I, privileged for being coming down from the city,
Ask them to sit and eat together,
Although I know very well that this can only be a gesture and the-thing-to-say.
I find them eating in the kitchen by a low table, with children,
After I am full and excuse myself from the table;
They stand up and try to give up the stool to me,
While I insist that I am too full to sit down, and they are happy to hear that.
They are happy to receive me as if I were not of this family but a VIP guest,
(Oh, maybe I really should consider myself a guest now.
I am already a guest to your family, right?)
And they feel grateful
Not so much for the gifts I give them as for the small talks I try to pick up.
They may ask me to explain some strange things they saw from TV dramas,
And anything I say may become their privileged source for gossips with others.
When the dinner is finished, it is almost mid-afternoon,
And one of your brothers is happily drunk.
People are in the field, working, while I stroll around like a tourist;
They all smile at me, knowing that I am the daughter-in-law of your family,
And I am so good as to take your son and daughter to visit your parents
Although you are too busy to come back.
Our son does not feel estranged from your family,
But our daughter, since she has never been to the countryside before
And does not understand the dialect,
Would turn to me frequently in foreign exclamations.
I can see the perplexed looks in your parents’ faces.
When night falls, the clouds are achingly colorful,
The sky and earth are full of unspeakable beauty.
I know this has been a reason I love you,
As if it is the root for your romanticness I am obsessed with.
How I ache for your accompany in your parents’ home,
To walk in the dying afterglow of the day,
In their love that is a little too much for me to take alone.
How can I not feel lonely?
How can I tell them that we are separated and not divorced?
Can I explain to them that you still love me like before,
But you do not believe in marriage any more?
September 15, 2008