tree circles 4

By Charlotte San Juan

A concubine’s daughter, yes.
A blackened peach in the palm
of her father’s blistered hands.

Leader of the Gang of Four,
Mao’s widow. Mao’s third wife.
She, the Great Flag-Carrier
of the Proletarian culture,
who at sixteen, too poor for underwear
fled her mother for a Beijing theater group.

Later, a lonesome patient in some
Moscow hospital with throat cancer,
they say–how serious, they don’t.
Her husband refused to visit.

Later, a withered prune woman
haunting a cell, turning up a wrinkled lip.
Batty, old Maoist, muttering:
“This is not the Chairman’s
revolutionary line.”

She, who rode with her cruel
ambition, dressed jewels in
private jets and sex-politics,
hounding death on the fools
that once scorned her. Aggressive,
beautiful and twenty-four, then–

Then, at seventy-seven,
was it really some mute suicide
that stole her– she who
Heaved watermelons
to the ground, refused by
her only daughter.

A dancing revolution of
heartlessness and loneliness,
of wanting to own the ink of a setting sun.

In the smoke of voice, the
dancing revolution of her husband’s
words:

“Women hold up half the sky,”
And she, a gnarled branch, and flowerless:
“I bit whomever he wanted me to bite.”

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2 comments

  1. Aliciakhoo sent me to read this. I’m glad she did.

    This could be any woman’s story: Biting whoever she’s told to bite and thinking that the power that comes from youth and beauty would be forever. Past the age of loveliness, women are discarded. Even the widow of Chairman Mao has been thrown away as useless trash.

    Thanks for writing this.

    Alice

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