There Was a Family
The two trees around her home were the tallest in our village,
And they could be seen from the school playground.
One of our games was to walk straight across the field toward them.
The huge pagoda tree was home to two nestles of magpies,
And its flowers were so tall that we could not reach even with a bamboo pole.
The tree provided them with vegetable and stuffing for steam buns.
There was also a chinaberry, littering so many
Bitter yellowish dates every year, which they would use to wash clothes.
Occasionally, communal co-op would buy in,
But most of the years there would be dates hanging high,
Conspicuous fruits, useless
Except for reminding us that winter was not stark bleak.
Then spring came, with burgeons fanning out so quick
That tiny purple flowers had to jostle their way for sunlight.
Then, the mother was dead, and the father could not properly speak.
Then, her elder sister surfaced the pond in a thick morning mist;
And her father went insane.
Before long, her brother was imprisoned for criminal revenge;
She was taken to be the wife for a moron.
On the year for his release, her brother was executed
Because a Sterner Punishment Movement was launched.
Then, her home was taken over by some wild dogs,
And we all tried to avoid the premise.