Wan Chu’s Wife

Over Christmas I stumbled across this poem by Richard Jones. It tickled me. It’s written in the style, at least, of early Chinese poetry.

Wan Chu’s Wife in Bed

Wan Chu, my adoring husband,
has returned from another trip
selling trinkets in the provinces.
He pulls off his lavender shirt
as I lay naked in our bed,
waiting for him. He tells me
I am the only woman he’ll ever love.
He may wander from one side of China
to the other, but his heart
will always stay with me.
His face glows in the lamplight
with the sincerity of a boy
when I lower the satin sheet
to let him see my breasts.
Outside, it begins to rain
on the cherry trees
he planted with our son,
and when he enters me with a sigh,
the storm begins in earnest,
shaking our little house.
Afterward, I stroke his back
until he falls asleep.
I’d love to stay awake all night
listening to the rain,
but I should sleep, too.
Tomorrow Wan Chu will be
a hundred miles away
and I will be awake all night
in the arms of Wang Chen,
the tailor from Ming Pao,
the tiny village downriver.

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