Published on February 11th, 2019 | by Kuo Zhang0
POEMS by KUO ZHANG
I have known the secret joy of pregnancy,
clip-clop of heartbeats in duet, high-fives across the belly,
a mini-stove in winter, a hug lasting 24/7,
a grey table, a white pillow, ice-cold ultrasound gel,
the most common androgynous creature detected.
A perfect patient, a happy hospital,
an additional free bread from the Korean baker in H-mart.
And I’ve seen the checklist of inappropriate mothers-to-be——
Too young, too old, too queer, too many children already,
Single, selfish, still in school (x), no stable job (x),
speaking imperfect English or no English at all (x),
an alien attempting to parent a U.S. citizen (x).
Bulldogs are non-native to Georgia.
The house is non-native to the land,
where bushes of Japanese knotweed grow
and European rabbits run.
Sunshine is non-native, forever, to earth.
Rice is non-native to rice cookers.
A wife is non-native to her husband,
who is native only to his mother.
Smartphones are non-native to fingers,
which are native to a beloved’s face
on the screen.
I am non-native to English, just like
I am non-native to childbirth,
but I say “Oh, my God!!!”
when they tell me “Push!”
In the wheelchair,
I hold a newborn
all the way to Mother/Baby Unit,
as if I heroed, injured
in a glorious battle;
awarded a rose gold trophy.
I had become a legend
for not using Epidural—
(a 3.5-inch needle inserted
into the arched spinal cord,
a catheter of IV fluids
threaded into the back,
blocking the nerve impulses
from the lower spinal segments.
Let mothers rest and relax
But I primitived, endured
the pain, imprinted on
every inch of the separation
that’ll never be reunited.
It is the same way Mom birthed,
still so common in China.
How can I choose a daycare center?
Church school, development lab, Montessori, in-home care?
When I don’t have anyone else’s story to remember.
The chubby cheeks and cherry mouth are clever
to match the curve of my neck, while he clings like a koala bear.
It’s a crime to drop him in a daycare center.
I was the kid who kicked, refused to enter,
cried too much. My teacher locked me in the bathroom, “Fair
to other kids!” A terrible story to remember.
I want him to learn English from a native speaker,
but also worry about his Chinese. With yellow skin and dark hair,
it’s hard to find Asians in Georgia daycare centers.
The shameless administration’s a lavish spender
of my monthly salary, while they keep me waiting at the door,
full of expectations. A contradictory story to remember.
“The children were pricked, fed wasabi, stripped naked,” from a Beijing newspaper.
It can’t happen——right? Not over here?
It’s so hard to choose a daycare center,
if you have so many stories to remember.