Migrant’s Love Song to an Adopted Home

Below vacant canyons of public housing,
As white-collar foxes prowl food courts for China babes,
I strum my guitar and try to forget her warm touch,
The laughter of brooks, a moon spying
On streets jolted by a hawker's lullaby: “Balut, penoy;”

Chained to money-disgorging machines by day,
I steal away and sing for you tonight.
I run across the well-lit banks
Of your river that snared me a decade ago;
I whisper your name in the solstice-soaked air,

Hunt for you in the shadows of orchid gardens,
Get singed by my cigarette butt past “No littering” signs
In the moonlight leaking from money trees;
My eyes burn with the fire of your starry fields.
Shrieking cars rush the dreamy wee hours.

Glass doors of a night bus scramble your image:
Liquid eyes of neon, lips round like plums in a bowl;
A grey auntie, like a magpie collecting carton boxes,
Calling “Gin na!” (her cry unravelling the heartland);
Fingers gnarled like ginger, like Grandma’ s,

Unwrap a dumpling in my sweaty palm;
On the year’s hottest night, your smile
Sweeps the vacant canyons on her creased face.
I strum my guitar as she coos in Hokkien
I crow like a rooster back at its coop: “Heto na ‘o!”

by Eric Valles
from Five Right Angles (2007)


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