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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 8, Number 1, March 2014

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Cynthia Rowe
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Light Finger Tapping

tending the plants . . .
but first I untangle
the wind chime

Every week I go to Mei's house to talk and take tea. Her English is halting, her face oval and hauntingly beautiful. She is lonely in this country and has few to confide in. Her belly swells with her pregnancy and I know she is glad to be carrying a child, as her in-laws will demand less of her. She will be free to sleep in for an extra hour each morning, not make breakfast for the relatives who live in this house at any given time. For me, Mei's shy smile is enough, the sharing of the tea—sometimes jasmine, sometimes strong Taiwanese.

resort style living
a crow perches
on the for sale sign

On this day, Mei produces the local newspaper and, after she has poured our tea into the tiny cups etched with gilt dragons, she flicks to the real estate page, and asks me to help her with the abbreviations, the acronyms, the property euphemisms. My head spins from the bracing tea—best in the world, she assures me. It seems bitter that day, the house unusually silent. "Why are you looking at property?" I ask. "We must find somewhere else to live," she says, in her halting fashion, ". . . we are almost broken." I see the desperation in her eyes.

botanic gardens
the swan tagged
for life

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