some curio of the change
Tzu Pheng Lee, “Prospect of a Drowning”
We found it among the small antique shops
in the Soho district of Hong Kong. Below
Mao posters and beside porcelain Michael J.
stood at smart attention a terracotta soldier,
an officer of some rank, the height of my hand.
Factory plaster has been painted a gritty grey
and in the hair pulled back to show a broad
forehead, in the protective vest, in the folds
of his sleeves and in the creases of his shoes,
a brown as fine and light as sand as if he has
just been dug up from a centuries-old grave.
It was a lovely copy, meticulous, affordable,
but we were searching for a Mao statuette
for Ty and Di. The only keepsake I wanted
was not photos or knickknacks but memories.
You urged me to get it. You knew better than
to keep me to my words when my hands
returned to weigh the soldier again. Now he
stands guard over my laptop, eyes unblinking,
under a moustache a steady, serious mouth.
If he could speak, what changes he could tell.