Words by Holly Lee. Response in picture by Lee Ka-sing

She posed for a photograph

She posed for a photograph
in an intricately embroidered
full length haiqing dress
her water sleeves restrained
movement withheld
an elegant flower-tan's breadth
imagining time, fabricating space
time traveled two thousand years
to well-groomed Pear Garden
the birth place of plays

Eating with bowl and chopsticks
she sat one knee up
in front of the family's
small, round dark marble table
her sitting posture resembled
a Guanyin
a Bodhisattva
or, a mundane meditation
on moon's refection
in water

My mother
I knew her before I was born
from rescued photo albums
yellow stained, timeworn
yet, memories of her later days
were not so glamorous
a chill washes over, as I remember
her husky, slightly out of tune
Cantonese operatic voice

Reclining on bed
dozing off by a small tv set
her snores, I could swear
were genuine compositions
trumpet french horn and oboe
bassoon saxophone all night long
lying beside her, I finally collapsed
into nowhereland
half awake and half asleep
lucid dreaming, way down deep

She sat playing Mahjong
sometimes day and night
she favored fatty roast pork
ate durian, straight out from ice-box
naughty as her grand daughter
she craved cold and sweet
ice cream cone and comfy shoes
both I brought her for a treat
first her belly to satisfy
then her swollen feet to fit

She called months after I'd left
a voice breathless, yet with joy
"I exercise I exercise,
I walk beside the lake for half a mile"
"your health must be improving" I said
instead, her yearning for life made me cry
she so wanted to see me, in memory
a sunshine girl with a little umbrella
sitting on green pasture
wearing a sweet, timid smile

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