Weijia Pan

To My Classless Motherland

I bottle kerosene at a factory, sticking

labels with the firm hands you gave me.

        Dad had firm hands before he drank.

        He’d wake us up. A staggering shadow.

I woke up and left on Rice Planting Day

when mom cried into a bowl of congee.

        When I make congee, I cry to myself.

        It’s better when cooled, and served with pickles.

Pickles are cheap like a printed calendar:

the gods, festivals, mandarin Chinese.

        Chinese is a weakling in a mega-city.

        The future is English, a tall white master.

At school, I was bright, tall, and pale.

I studied stolen novels under the dark.

        Dark is the color of small-town China.

        I bottle kerosene; I light up your sky.

Weijia Pan is a poet and translator from Shanghai, China. His poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, from AGNI, Georgia Review, Copper Nickel, Boulevard, and elsewhere. A winner of the Inprint Paul Verlaine Prize in Poetry, he is pursuing an MFA in poetry at the University of Houston.
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