Pui Ying Wong: "Spring, Beijing"




Boulevards wide as airfields,

the vast square meant

for armies and chariots

is crowded with hawkers.


A guard stands in attention

at the crossing, expressionless

as the five red stars

pinned on his lapel.


Flag poles have been planted

firmly along the moat,

and the warning signs read:

Fishing Strictly Forbidden. 


Poplars everywhere,

slender like the young women

strolling arm in arm with their

parasols, leaving trails of laughter

and shells of sunflower seeds.


In the park a crowd gathers,

alert as an alley cat. 

A man sings falsetto.

We don’t know the lyrics

but we hear a music that lives

between timidity

and bravery.


Bicycles are disappearing fast

along with the hutongs

where tourists in courtyard inns

trade tips on currency exchange

and roasted-duck restaurants.


By the foundation site

across the long gray wall,

a migrant worker emerges

from under a sheet of plastic,

a makeshift tent

for his cot and portable TV.


He looks into the morning

that is fish-belly white,

catkins swirling in the air

as if they have just been

blown out of his dream.



Pui Ying Wong is a native of Hong Kong and is bilingual in English and Chinese. She is the author of two chapbooks—Mementos (Finishing Line Press, 2007), Sonnet for a New Country (Pudding House Press, 2008)—and a full length book of poetry, Yellow Plum Season (New York Quarterly Books, 2010).  Her poems have appeared in The Asian Pacific American Journal, Blue Fifth Review, Cavalier Literary Couture, Chiron Review, decomP, DMQ Review, 5 AM, New York Quarterly, PoetSpeak, Poetz, and elsewhere. Her poems in Chinese have appeared in China Press and New World Poetry.