By | 23 September 2001


my father and I
were standing at the glass book shelf
looking down
at a row of mao's works translated in albanian
I said to dad
why did you learn english
not albanian?
should I?
no, he said, no, not albanian
you don't learn that language
I forgot what else he said
as part of his explanation
'cause that must be more than thirty years ago
during the cultural revolution
when the bookshops throughout china
had nothing but mao's works


xia guoqiang a friend
from middle school
told me after seeing an albanian film
how dirty the tricks were that the enemy had played
I saw the film
and never saw it the way he saw it
all I could remember was the song
and the music
albanian music
that was greater than anything I had ever heard
although I had not heard much


the guitar the albanians played in the film
the mountain eagle flag
and the mountainous country
such a tiny country in the world
such a great friend with china
in those days

I remember all that
and more
when I watched nato bombing
and kosova albanians
on t.v.



(p.s – my wife said to me over dinner
a number of days
after I had finished the poem
she recalled the titles of those two albanian films
I said i could not remember
and that
she said she could not remember
when asked
one called The Trauma
and the other, Rather Die than Surrender and she added
she admired the nurse in the film
a lot
for the proud way
she held herself
and that
she had seen the film
many many times
'cause there wasn't much else

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