"Picture Bride" by Cathy Song

She was a year younger

than I,

twenty-three when she left Korea.

Did she simply close

the door of her father’s house

and walk away. And

was it a long way

through the tailor shops of Pusan

to the wharf where the boat

waited to take her to an island

whose name she had

only recently learned,

on whose shore

a man waited,

turning her photograph

to the light when the lanterns

in the camp outside

Waialua Sugar Mill were lit

and the inside of his room

grew luminous

from the wings of moths

migrating out of the cane stalks?

What things did my grandmother

take with her? And when

she arrived to look

into the face of the stranger

who was her husband,

thirteen years older than she,

did she politely untie

the silk bow of her jacket,

her tent-shaped dress

filling with the dry wind

that blew from the surrounding fields

where the men were burning the cane?

 

 

copyright  Yale University Press

Cathy Song is an Asian-American poet. She was born and raised in Hawaii and is of Korean and Chinese descent. She has long been considered as a poet who represents the passive beauty of East Asian culture and recalls tribal memory. Her first poetry collection, Picture Bride, is frequently regarded as the work of personalizing the process of female assimilation into American society.