In Dublin

My Irish grandparents
lived in separate bedrooms
in my aunt's house;
he reading the paper every day,
keeping the fire burning
to the end;
she taking to her bed,
letting the present slip away
with its burden of names, dates,
the indignity of bedpans.



In Malaya

My Chinese grandparents
lived in the hot bright
of coconut trees and monsoon:
he, the baby doctor,
whose fading obituary
says he was present
at fifty thousand births,
but who died before my own;
she up before dawn,
spice on her veined hands
as she diced and kneaded and rolled,
warning me of hell-fire,
the strength of a dragon coiled inside her
as she sat in the lotus position
at our kitchen table.

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