Hwai-Yuen 1910

Hwai-Yuen 1910

I open the ibis box for treasure
of old china, brittle as temple
birds brocaded on the lid of memory
and recall old songs, like roofs
of red tile, the streets empty
except for beggars and dead dogs.
Next to us the orphanage, the girl
children, some from our own doorstep.
Spinsters sequestered in their earmuffs
coming in battalions to help the mission
yet another year; we were so young
we all called them auntie.
Auntie Tatti appears in silk,
silent footed along the rattan halls,
when we were breast fed by amahs.
These old albums sting my eyes with dust.

-T.C.Buell

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