Grandma's Hands

These are the hands
always holding each other.
Folding and unfolding
in each other's palm --
a white hair, a story, or a twig.

Like the life lines
twined and untwined --
Always a secret
written between
the right palm and the left palm.

These are the hands
That said, How cold !
And cupped my hands
when I shivered.

These hands are made of bones
attached to the skins --
filled with dishes, wrinkles, and other hands.
These hands
scrub the floor, wipe our tears, and hold a prayer.

Time and time
again the hands say,
I will let you go.
And then remind me,
Don't turn your head.
Each time
the hands hold me closer
by letting go.

These are the hands
visible and invisible
which connect
a distance
between a small room on Long Island and a grave
in Hong Kong.

These hands reach out from
the breeze

to touch me
without asking.

These hands reached out from
a bed
in an I.C.U.
and said, Go home, you are hungry.

I asked the hands,
Don't you want me to stay with you ?
The hands were in silence.

One evening, I heard the hands
murmur in a dream
Ah mo ! Ah mo !

I asked,
What is it ?
My mother said,
This is how your grandma calls her mother.
1988, Long Island, New York


As the downpour washes the moutains
into a painting
We follow the rhythm of rain
into millennia of paths
that bring us together.
Tonight, Maria sits by the window
to rub her eyes and make sure
it is just the rain
that blurs her vision.

Back at home, she never cries.
We are just carried away by the rain:
Different time or colors
now look similar.
The mountains, the rivers, the memories,
and many interpretations
of a painting, are rising
from far to near.

We listen to different versions of rains:
It looks like the vineyard in Sicily
where hundreds of folks came to a reading
by an American author. They may not understand
English, but the rain.....
He sinks behind the screen of rain, and she rises:
It's like the rain of bullets on the walls
in North East China during the Japanese war
which filled pages of .....
The rain beats the windows harder:
Like the tears of the Russian Jew,
after hundreds of years, still
exile with rain.......

What seems strange in other countries
now becomes familiar,
The rain has no brain to discriminate
the boundaries of nationalities
but fall into everyone's eyes
without announcing
the arrival or departure
of feelings.
From the roots transplanted
it may or may not grow:
in different climate
being neglected,
over or under ferterlized,
drought or flood.
All because of the lack of planning
of rain.

We don't plan to read tonight.
Just our hearts are pouring out
with the float of
neither tears nor rain.
It must be something more
than the beginning of

1989, Massachusset at a poetry reading