Father Dies, Son Dies—
this is good fortune
my grandfather paid the teller
eight yuan to write under the luck
of bright moonlight.
The bamboo scroll is now burning
in the dark night.
My grandfather belches—
he has swallowed the death
of his son, forbidden to die
He can only wait now,
for the next life, when he,
a water buffalo, carries his son
on his back while he grazes on the meadow.
The chestnuts, my father’s favorite,
are roasting in the flame of fortune,
shaped like shu-zhu prayer beads
that circle in Buddha’s hands,
as the rotation of the earth.
On this elevated fresh soil,
I spread lotus seeds,
pomegranates, rice cakes,
all my father’s favorite eats.
Through the long hours of darkness,
I keep watch, waiting for him
to break out of his grave,
as a firefly, to light the night.
JJ Chen Henderson’s works of fiction and poetry appear in Palo Alto Review, Concho River, Sagebrush Review, The Dream Catcher, and The Comstock Review. She lives in West Texas with her husband and their nine-year-old daughter, Kate.