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How Long is a Cancer Year in China?

THE UNSINKABLE MS YUE

I think cancer years, the 12 month periods we endure when we or someone we know is battling a disease, are agonizingly longer than normal. And during those years our bodies seem to age in accordance with our perception of the passage of time distorted.

I was scouring old posts about The Unsinkable Ms Yue to add on a new site meant to raise funds for her and The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women when I came across the draft of a poem written one year ago.

The good news is: Ms Yue, though in some discomfort and worried about some lymphatic swelling, has cowed cancer for a full year. Her hair has grown back to the extent that she can almost tie it back with a band. Here is a written toast to Ms Yue, one of dozens of poetic anniversaries that will serve, by comparison, to happily distance her from disease.

AFTER BEING ASKED TO CUT HER HAIR

When she called, yesterday evening

or the night before, I had to walk

into the thick heat of Southern China

toward our prostitute of a River, beautiful

after dark and flattered by artificial light. I found it

especially hard to breathe because she reeks

of factory smoke and poverty.

During the day, the sky, one grey cataract,

ignores the whore whose name no one speaks

with longing in their voice The water was unlined:

a corpse without worry as I began to prepare

a place in my memory for what I would destroy

perhaps forever: The hair, the forty-five years

of silk still glistening with the kisses

of an adoring mother and vigilant father

She asked to me conceal the evidence

of the waning of the infinite. I was told to cut

and shave the perfect blackness, the magnificent

mystery of the history of moonlight, fires,

and the wind that has run fingers

through the remembered and the forgotten.

“Love is so short, forgetting so long”

when it is a name like hers that you clutch

deep in your throat. As strong as she

will be, and as proudly high as she has always

held her head, the quarrel with her body

may always look the same I dressed sorrow

as a bright pearl and suffocated my sobs, because

the still water, so deep below me, could not,

would not, dismiss my questions nor the ones

I knew she would never ask.

Second Draft For YYL October 15, 2006

American Poet in China,Cancer Journal,China Editorials,China Photos,Poetry,The League of Extraordinary Chinese Women,The Unsinkable Ms Yue

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