November 2003

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One Hundred Pounds

for Wong Way Ching, Wellington 1914

There is no photograph of the father
of the father of my father
only one taken
from the ancestral home by a man
not related.  I imagine him
(inside a cardboard
box, lost in the tenements
of modern Canton)
in pure black
and white, and perhaps aged
the colour of old blood,
and wonder
did he have hair
that swung across his back
in the style of Manchurian
subjection, or was it cut
short and covered by
a trilby?  Ah, there
is nothing to see, only brazen black
letters on aged white paper:  
a notice of Murder
from the Minister of Justice
the reward as great
as the poll-tax.

© Alison Wong.  All Rights Reserved.

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