He taught me about empires, got spotted
in a ferry leaning almost too close to a man
in the same tee. People like us traveled a lot,
often with grist to unravel the abutments of risky
fabric, practiced the Barbarian Invasion, fought
from a hetero shore to the less hetero soil.
It was science when a boat floated, so was
it when one sank, mass increased,
buoyancy gave in. His body knew it,
his liver a budded rival of his own
cells, pushing down the declivity every
historically healthy bit of him. I wished
the harbor wafts gentled his sallow skin
despite the waves and noisy seagulls.
My fault of smattering when Reformation
began, what was reformed. Of finding radio-
therapy more theatrical than Marie Antoinette.
He said his speech was unclear now, ball
point pens feckless, upside down in a mug,
unpaired. History not a mistake repeating but
a red smudgy rabbit stamp I once had for
recounting facts on time and exactly as he said.
The way he wrote Renaissance on the board was
so neat. I almost saw a straight line beneath.
Nicholas YB Wong received his MFA at the City University of Hong Kong and is a finalist of New Letters Poetry Award.