Elegy to a Brother Who Wrote Autobiographical Poems

I'm not her: the woman whom he sunbathed with
By the pool every afternoon for two months.
Was he thirty? She was much older. Those lilies
In her garden he vividly described in a poem;
The grease of his sweat in the sun.
I do not doubt he really joked about
Shooting the alarm clock on her lingerie chest.

I'm certainly not habitually depressed--
That other woman whose belly button's scarred
Is not me. They met in an underground disco
In 1973. Busan? I believe him:
If he wrote she burned his manuscripts, twice,
When they were fighting (and there was
Always a net of cords on the floor
Of her granny's house), then she
must have done so.

My age is probably closest to this girl
Whose neck was short. Like Scheherazade
She told stories into the night. Sometimes,
When she thought he finally fell asleep,
She let out an exhausted sigh
Long enough to celebrate the end of a day.
Perhaps he loved her, for only
positive remarks of her survive.

Decades ago, I urged him not to write about me.
Only fictionally could he put me in his work.
But I was told (and I could see)
Traces of me are everywhere,
Buried in his poems. Brother,
If you could be resurrected, I would punish you
For promise-breaking. I would tickle you
Breathless, like when we were still young.

Tammy Ho Lai-ming, aka Sighming, is a Hong Kong-born writer who has had creative works published on five continents. She is the editor of Hong Kong U Writing: An Anthology (2006) and a co-editor of Love & Lust (2008). She is also a co-founder of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, the first Hong Kong-based online literary quarterly dedicated to publishing quality literature from and about Asia. Website: www.sighming.com. (tammyho@asiancha.com)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761