Plum


Mom teaches me
the correct way
to write
my ancestral name

when an elderly Chinese man
on Wentworth
past the Kai Kai Coffee Shop

summons me
by another name
announces I am
the boy of so-and-so.

            Hold the brush
perpendicular
between your middle finger
and thumb.

Point your index finger up
toward heaven, the gold mountain
where an old man and his grandson
so far away from home
struggle together to remember
their given name.

            Dip the brush
careful not to drip black ink
onto the porcelain dish and

draw the number one
a single stroke
gently on the paper.

            From the top
draw an upside down capital L
then a line across the middle
and connect the bottom
forming

            a box.

            By itself
            alone reads
            as the sun,

but an apostrophe over top left corner
a house half roofed
means white

as the inside skin
peeled off a ripe banana

or his name.

I remember this word
pure as potassium
sounds harsh.

My name,
a false name,
is plum.

It hangs low
a sweet note plucked
on a single lute chord,
bending supple branch

round like the sun,
but really looks purple
dark violet, even black
not white.

She finishes her lesson, saying,

Break loose the stem,
tear the fleshy peel away and

see how plums resemble
bananas only through blood.

and learn
that neither plum
or banana
is strange fruit.