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Wang Ping: Pick of the Week [ed. Terence Winch]

Ping by Rudy B. NYC  on the rooftop of Rudy Burckhardt's apartment building.




















Wang Ping on the rooftop of Rudy Burckhardt's apartment building in NYC. Photo by Rudy Burckhardt.



Our Prayers on Father’s Day

Dear God, we are not child actors. We are children. Real children.

Dear God, where is my papa and mama? We just walked 3,000 miles, fighting coyotes along the way. We thought we’d be safe once we crossed the Rio Grande.

Dear God, you said everyone is born equal, every life is a gift, and the kingdom of heaven resides in the mustard seed.

Dear God, we are small and young. Some of us just learned to walk, some still wear diapers, and some are still nursing. Are we not your tiny mustard seeds, dear God?

You say a kid must not be boiled or eaten in mother’s milk. Why are you ripping us from our mother’s breasts, from our father’s hands?

Dear God, we have lost everything: our country, our home, our friends and tomorrow. We have nothing left but our papa and mama. Please give them back.

Dear God, here’s my mama’s number. Here’s my papa’s number. Here’s my aunt’s number. I have it memorized. Please call so we can get out of this dog kennel.

Dear God, you cried for donkeys moaning under loads and falling on the roadside. Are you crying for us, as we fall off la bestia, crushed under tren de la muerte?

Dear God, you wept when you heard starving baby ravens crying from the nest. Are you weeping for us, Lord, as you hear our wailing for papa and mama from the cage?

Dear God, we followed your law to flee from danger: a burning forest, a roaring tsunami, a raging war, violent gangs.

But dear God, it’s been months since I was yanked from mama’s breasts, since I’m left in the cage, crawling in circles . . . as I turn the tender age of 11 months old.

Dear God, we didn’t want to leave home, walk 3,000 miles, or fall off la bestia.

Dear God, we are not criminals or child actors. We just want our mama and papa. Our parents are not criminals or actors. They just want to raise us. There’s no script. Our only word is to live, like all God’s children.

Do not turn off the light on us, dear God. Do not throw away the key to our cage. Give back our papa and mama, dear Lord. Do not forsake us, alone, terrified, drowning in our tears. Hear our cries on Father’s Day. Hear the cries of our fathers and mothers, dying from the death sentence of separation.

Dear God, please let us be children again, like arrows in the hands of a warrior. For we’re your mustard seeds, your heritage, keys to thy kingdom of heaven, dearest God.


Wang Ping was born in China and came to the U.S. in 1985. Her publications of poetry and prose include American Visa, Foreign Devil, Of Flesh and Spirit, New Generation: Poetry from China Today, Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China, The Magic Whip, The Dragon Emperor, The Last Communist Virgin, Flashcards: Poems by Yu Jian, Ten Thousand Waves, and Life of Miracles along the Yangtze and Mississippi (AWP 2017 award for non-fiction). She won the Eugene-Kayden Award for the Best Book in Humanities and is the recipient of an NEA felllowship, the Bush Artist Fellowship for poetry, the McKnight Fellowship for non-fiction, and many other awards. She received her Distinct Immigrant Award in 2014, and Venezuela International Poet of Honor in 2015. She is the Minnesota Poet Laureate 2021-23, appointed by International Beat Poetry Foundation. She’s also a photographer, installation artist, and flamenco dancer. Her multi-media exhibitions include “Behind the Gate: After the Flood of the Three Gorges” and “Kinship of Rivers,” shown at schools, colleges, galleries, museums, lock and dams, and confluences along the Mississippi River. She is professor emerita of English at Macalester College and founder and director of Kinship of Rivers project.


Rudy-burckhardt-6-fotos  1992

                                    Rudy Burckhardt 6 fotos,1992


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