Fu er dai

Last year, the son of China’s richest man posted pictures online of his dog wearing two gold-plated Apple Watches, one on each front paw.
—“China’s Rich Kids Head West,” The New Yorker

This winter I just had
to wing it—dinner
with two boys
from Guangzhou,
from two generations
where legacies run
unhijacked. In electric orange sweatshirts
the color of a parent’s guilt,
each hole silk-patched on
GIVENCHY stenciled
chests, they fought
about the worth
of the proletariat
& the meaning of nice
clothes. I wore my
mother’s worn shoes
five sizes up
and my mother’s
face, a show all made-up
for my mother’s guests,
an established institution
on New Years’ Eve.
On gold lettered tablets,
they scrolled down
characters I didn’t know.
Ancient Chinese poetry,
they explained, was perfect
symmetry; bloodlines of
words and verbs twinned
like an airshow of bombers
& blue angels.
I wondered how they found
my limping
tongue & second-hand
guessing, a child of
a one-child policy
in an unamended family,
moth-eaten custody
split between two bodies.
Instead, I covered with
my mouth, the hole
in my sleeve.

Stella Wong is a poet with degrees from Harvard and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Wong’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Colorado Review, Missouri Review, Indiana Review, Cortland Review, Tupelo Quarterly, BOAAT, Narrative, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She is the winner of the 2016 Academy of American Poets University Prize and the 2018 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize judged by Danez Smith.

Cover image by Chastagner Thierry