Friday, August 30, 2013

The Sling




With this embroidered cloth,
My forebears carried all that was precious
Across the contested landscape of China,
Crossing the Yellow River, fleeing south.

With these long sashes,
My ancestors wrapped precious seeds
Tight against their backs,
Crossing the Red River into Vietnam, then Laos.

With this hlaab nyas,
My great grandparents enfolded
And protected their children from tigers and spirits,
Crossing the Dragon River, blazing new fields.

With this baby sling,
My parents shielded my siblings and me,
Seeking shelter across a land at war,
Crossing the Mekong River for Thailand, then beyond.

Now, with this heirloom,
I carry my daughters and sons
Up the volcanic slopes of Hawaii, across the rugged rocks
Of the Central Coast, among the Sierra Nevada foothills,  

Crossing and recrossing the San Joaquin River
And the Kings River; in this land between
These two rivers, in this Fresno,
I carry on…