Chinese Characters


Chinese characters


Five strokes for four squares
you watched your sweat dry in the sun
as you ploughed through the field

The four squares of tian
Were for each character
In the exercise books that permeated your weeks
And my weekends

Was the medium of instruction
Page after page
Of entrance examinations
Of application forms
Of birth certificates

When the ultrasound warped

You didn’t see a uterus
You saw a seed palace
One to plant an investment
That will yield to a glow
From cheap plastic trophies
And the glare of laminated certificates
In which you could bask

When the head came out of her first
You saw a “brain bag”
One you could fill with your instructions
And ideologies
About right and black

You saw five strokes in tian
And each lead to a cycle of one another
I saw four stokes in Tian
Each led to an opening

The sweets you restricted
The toothpaste I swallowed
The envelopes I sealed
To savour the taste
So easy for the other children to get

The sky
You put a window in front of
Along with piles of worksheets
You wanted me to learn the character
And know the fields you worked
I wrote strokes on the paper
You put strokes next to my answers
If there were two strokes on the paper
There was one for my arm

You saw a field of lines
which led to one another
I saw sweets and sky


X Chen

Author: X Chen

"Exxy Chen has an honours degree in Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne. Her hobbies are writing and drawing. She lives with two cats and a canary, and is glad they like her."