Remembering the World

Wong May

What does China remember of Japan?

On Lugou Bridge you ask.

What does Japan remember of China?

On Lugou Bridge you want to know.

This is where it all started.

They say don’t count the stone lions

At the pier—

You will become one of them.

Stop counting

Stop!

      Your eyeballs are turning stony, inward.

I bared my teeth in the mirror

When I got back to the hotel.

They still chatter.

Prolonged exposure to the Northerlies

On the bridge prises one’s palate.

But I did not roar.

A clever man in the last century

Wrote a fairly readable book

From Lugou Bridge to Pearl Harbor

(1937 to 1941). He reckons

A World War may begin many times

Before it begins.

We never tire.

You are not far off

One of the world’s true crime spots.

Are there secrets best kept in the War Museum

                                                       At Lugou?

Born after the War

I might turn in my parents,

In memory

Of their survival

In China’s war years.

“For your generation

The last world war

Was fought.” Yes, this will go on being said

Till the next generation

Born before the War

Has no one to say it to.

The late Qing Emperor left 4 words

On a stone pier:

“Dawn Moon

Over Lugou”

Wong May was born in China and has published four books of poetry in the U.S. Her most recent collection is Picasso’s Tears: Poems, 1978–2013. She recently translated In the Same Light: 200 Tang Poems for Our Century. She lives in Dublin and paints much of the time to get away from words.
Originally published:
December 6, 2022

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