Dr. Wu


In a halting Mandarin, Dr. Wu spoke:   

You will live another 29 years.

It is a hurdle, not a ditch. 

He made this welcomed assessment on visit one—

casting his I-Ching in the face of what appeared 

to him a dire confluence in the forces of my life,

the navel line to my mother cut by a pre-birth trauma, 

if you believe that bodies are one for a time.    

He said: see me every day for 30 days. 

Then 60.

And because I did this, because I took his word 

as the law of my natural life, because I gave myself 

to his will, to his chi-prodding hands, his caustic herbs, 

his hairline needles, and barely uttered wisdom, 

I am alive today. 


29 years to the day have passed since his first words to me. 

These seasons flew by quickly, and as orange blossoms

litter the wet streets under roving Cap Ferrat clouds, 

there is, overall, a feeling of completion. 

I did what I came to do. 

I loved and struggled and, not knowing how, surrendered.

I knew who there was to know. 

I felt the end and was not diminished. 

But made by light above to see darling light in the eyes 

of every armed and fractured passenger 

riding in this while of life. 

And every face I see here—in scarf, beret or taqiyah— 

looks to me a perfect human face. 

Each grin, like the grin of Dr. Wu,

slices my fear of endings like a scalpel. 

Flying in robes now over café and boardwalk 

in the cold night, like a dancer escaped gravity,

alone and near to the stars,  

it never occurs to me how much time 

has really passed, or why.