I gave my Chinese girlfriend Marx in English, then we laughed among the tulips. We laughed until her father came between us— a memory of him she carried— a small man surrounded by lathes in a factory near Lanzhou. Every day for thirty years he ate the same for lunch: noodles, cabbage, an inch of dried mackerel. Every evening she washed his hands, wishing there were pudding, chocolate, news to break the seasons that weren’t quite seasons, gray days mostly of rain. Still, she found it worthy to believe in something, something past my kisses, my attention, my compassion. I knew the Lanzhou sun never properly shone; I knew she was divided—here and there, spirit and bone, sand and star, as Hegel teaches. She liked the yellow tulips best, and I the reds, and as we walked toward the tea garden at the edge of the park, she let go of my hand then took it once again.
Carl Boon’s debut collection of poems, Places & Names, will be published this year by The Nasiona Press. His poems have appeared in many journals and magazines, including Posit and The Maine Review. He lives in Izmir, Turkey, and teaches courses at Dokuz Eylül University.