How will things grow in a season like this?

               Sun turned skin to fractured nets,
                      cracked and ashen to the touch.

                      The shoulders darkening,
                      then the forearms, two twigs
               I used for fanning.

                      To eat was hard, much less
                      to sleep, to breathe!
               Forgive my lips their small divorce.

Such summers that we could not bear.


And yet my father, with pulpy loam between his toes
                      heaved vessels of water from the stream.

                      River to paddy, river to paddy, such mindless repetition
                      that even the vessels sunk
        into senselessness, tired
               of hoisting, sagging down as a sow’s low belly. The water
waking the tender field to parched murmurs.

      At day’s end, he collapses on the bend,
               heart pounding through ribcage, breath cast down
                      like ripe peach falling.


To his wedding, my father wore a grey suit, bespoke and paid
                      with borrowed money.

                      Not knowing what to name his children
               he cast the die among flowers and incense,
                      loving that smell of heady resin.

               Studious, he was not born to bear arms,
preferring books to shells, late afternoons
                      on the sun-warmed darkness of a water buffalo’s back.

                      A devout man, anxious about heaven,
               &#160he spends late life atoning.


                      He will not speak much of the dead. Not speak
                      of pain or hunger, war or torture, how many and where.

               Merely lets the silence consume
                      our small, beleaguered home.

               Father, the killer, the victim: a dead man
                      living, haunted and pursued.

                      Ghosts stalk through his dreams, and he wakes
                      to cold paralysis. His days are hemmed in
               by the innumerable voices

arguing amongst themselves.