By Elinor Benedict
2000 Winner of the might Swenson Poetry Award. Foreword by means of Maxine Kumin. even if the poems during this assortment aren't narrative, they do current a story, steadily unspooling the story of the poet's insurgent aunt, who left the relations "to marry a Chinaman" within the 1930's. it is an previous tale, filled with poignancy, secret, relatives delight, and doubt. while the aunt returns to die, the poet, now grown, discovers in herself the necessity to reclaim the connections that her relatives had severed. She travels to China numerous times--to research. steadily, via wide-eyed, insightful poems, we see the poet rebuild together with her chinese language cousins a feeling of iteration, kinfolk, and humanity--bridging over all that divides us.
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36] THE TRU TH ABOU T HISTORY Where Were You? ” The room feels mufﬂed as he details the May 4 Movement, Mao’s rise, the Japanese War, Liberation. We nearly fall asleep, but we wake up when he reaches the Gang of Four, nearing that day we saw on television, Tiananmen Square. He stops before he gets there. We ask him why. He clears his throat, pronounces the incident too new to be history. Then he offers what he insists is only his personal opinion: Lawless elements, vandals to blame. We glance at each other.
Observe the wet pines, raven in mist, waterfalls lighting the monk’s smile. A courtier imagined this wilderness among tassels and brocade. Did either painter or painted hear the mufﬂed weeping in the narrow passageways that twisted into the city’s heart?  F U L L M O O N H A R V E S T F E S T I VA L AT T H E S PA C I T Y In the restaurant and all over China tonight there are millions of mooncakes, ﬂat and round, white with mysterious dark centers. Here in this luxury retreat built for him, aging moon-faced Mao never quite arrived, never climbed the three hills or dipped in the seventy-two springs that dried up, or swam in the Olympic pool still waiting without ripples behind glass walls.
We push away peddlers with bloody ﬁnger-puppets, refuse to heed forecasts of happiness depending on how we cross a bridge, balance on a wooden ball. Where’s our sense of humor? Gone. And when we come down to the river again, a family at the crowded dock presents their prize boy with legs twisted backward, a blind mother clamps her snot-streaked child between her knees, all stretching out their arms with trinkets. Hello! Why do the people of Fengdu seem more desperate than those of a dozen other  Chinese cities we have seen?