Sitting in the plaza of the Louvre
my mother asks me if I remember being a child
the summer we tried to visit an imperial garden in Beijing
where there is a hotel designed by the same man
who designed this glass pyramid behind us
an architect famous for designing structures
that harmonized precisely with their environments—
did I think this Louvre entrance
glittering with the sun that never seems to set on the European summer
the plaza filled with pigeons walking
through the dry reflecting pools and small children
climbing over each other’s heads and screaming—
did I think it could be considered one of his successes
Many yards away crowds of tourists materialize from the green of the Tuileries
carrying wax paper packets of chocolate croissants and stirring up eddies of yellow dust
and beyond that the carnival
Remember my mother says that day we arrived
too late in the evening
the gate was closed and we were turned
from the entrance: my sister and I
ran down the wide dirt path
did I remember the hotel which fit
so tenderly into the thickets
that in construction the builders felled
not a single tree
Quiet Night Thought
after Li Bai
It’s a clear night; the moon is out.
When I was young, the four of us
in the car, coming late from someplace
under its steady glow,
my mother used to say,
Look up, there’s the moon
following us home.
Then I grew up and learned everyone
has a relationship with the moon.
Because I have not drawn the curtains
my room is flooded with its cool light,
purer than the light of streetlamps.
No snow yet this winter,
but frost carpets the world beyond.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been home,
in the car, listening to my mother talk.
When I was young, I wouldn’t get in
unless we could hold hands between the seats.