Boundless, across boundless, wave-driven miles,
white clad steel groaned against current.
In bitter fifth month fog, I arrived at a different place,
but now, they bid me depart.
Lazy wanderer, empty of speech, the village
home not near nor in sight.
Nothing but a wood house humped up and cold,
and wind moans without meaning.
The ferry will dock hard, edge me
Once aboard that slow boat home, day won’t dawn
again for a thousand years.
Day won’t dawn again in a thousand years, and
of what use were all my careful lies?
Those here weeping, who wave farewell, they'll earn
their prerequisites and land.
My own clan will grieve on, but others, with reason,
soon full of small song.
Once you’re dead and gone,
Trust yourself to the open sea,
it will take you in.
Note From The Author: This poem is one I wrote while working on the translation project of the Chinese wall poetry at Angel Island. It imagines an immigrant ancestor who suffered the ultimate disappointment of deportation. This poem is inspired by T’ao Ch’ien’s classic Tang poem about leaving the sentient world in old age and entering the unknown, much like a deportee drifting about on an uncertain sea.