The serpent came to me and said you would
I wept uncontrollably under the gaze of
The surprised homeroom teacher,
Who insisted a dream was just a dream
Just a dream.
But before the serpent I had dreamt of
The lavishly garbed, bearded gods
Of sharp incense marching side by side
At our ancestors’ necropolis
By the misty hillside of my genesis.
Strangers who had lost loved ones were
Burning papier mache servants and maids
Sending feather ashes and wishes up to the heavens
Where the first tear-rain of remorse would form –
And then come crashing down on the joyous island.
Your husband my grandpapa had appeared
In the raging fire
(Hell banknotes now a twirling tornado)
And in his unfamiliar eyes I had read
An invitation to the Great
24.8.16 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Painting: ‘Lush Woods of Taoist Immortal Land’ by Zha ShiBiao 查士标 (ca. 1687)