Bai San

by Daniel Peterson

“Daddy, this is Daniel.”
     and, like that, my father-in-law sends my name by ancient smoke signal
from a burning mountainside gravesite overlooking the South China Sea
     to my new Asian ancestor, who is surely surprised at the news,
between bites of chicken and succulent orange slices,
     as sweet summer rice wine seeps into his veins through the dirt floor,
I wonder if he sees me through his neatly-framed black and white portrait, bowing three times,
     or if he can simply tell from the incongruous sounds of my Anglo name
what this world has wrought.

And I wonder if he accepts me, reflexively, like I accept him—

in this introduction, this time portal conjured up
     from burnt offerings and incense,
this temporal connection made and, God-willing,
     opened again someday.


Posted on 06/18/2011
Copyright © 2024 Daniel Peterson

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