ON RECEIVING SCANS OF YAYA’S LETTERS, SPANNING FORTY YEARS
My grandfather’s words appear from another age,
but how (short) they fail/(fall): my translations.
Some things I can’t fit into this language.
不知有否：I don’t know if I have it. I crave
to know, too. 好久沒有寫家信。The 國際 situation.
These words come/land from another age.
English words, like history, interrupt the page.
refrigerator Eisenhower Atomic Energy Commission.
Some things don’t fit into only one language.
He’s signed them 三兒。Or 鑑弟 。Or, depending on age,
三哥。So many selves for a single person.
These names break in/emerge from another age.
His longing, or anger, or grief—I can’t gauge
his feelings from these polite letters to 父親大人。
Such things don’t fit into neat language.
MESSAGE MUST APPEAR, says the airmail page,
ON INNER SIDE ONLY. The paper’s so thin,
words bleed in, half-lost with age.
Some things don’t fit into any language.
Laura Wang lives in New York City, where she writes stories and teaches human beings about molecules. She is currently an MFA candidate at Sarah Lawrence College.