April is here again and that means its National Poetry Writing Month and for my second year I’ll be joining the 30 poems in 30 days challenge hosted by napowrimo.net. For this challenge, a poetry prompt will be provided daily during the month of April and if I can keep on track I’ll achieve the 30 poems in 30 days goal. So enough chatter…let’s go! It’s time for NaPoWriMo!
This is a timely prompt. I’ll explain more later.
They Smiled as We Weeped
With tears in our eye’s we ate their food.
Baba smiling the whole time, sitting unusually quite at the head of the table. Not even sipping his wine.
Mama by his side. All her favorite foods laid out in front of her. The sweets she was never supposed to eat because her blood sugar would spike, but always did. Yet she ate none of it. She just smiled as we weeped.
With tears in our eye’s we ate their food. A feast for the dead. We’ll be having leftovers for days.
So, today is QingMing (tomb-sweeping) day in China. A day to remember our elders that have passed on. The above poem was inspired by my experience this very day. With Baba and Mama (my wife’s parents) both passing this year, it’s been a particularly emotional day. We had lived together for years. Decades. The house feels too quite. Too quite.
I’m not educated on all the Chinese cultural practices involved in paying respects to the dead. I’m just learning from experience. I know the food and drink we prepared was offered to our ancestors and they partook at least in spirit. So, perhaps the sentiment in my poem is a bit contradictory to this belief. But the poem is about how I experienced the practice from my eyes. The eyes of a foreigner son-in-law that has experienced the love of being part of a Chinese family. And who deeply respects their culture even if I might not always understand.
Dedicated with love to Baba and Mama. Rest in peace.
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Monty, I know how hard their passing was for you and especially your wife. I love this poem!! It is a beautiful look at the traditions you are observing.
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Thanks for your kind words.