JJ Chen Henderson

Father Dies, Son Dies—
this is good fortunemy grandfather paid the tellereight yuan to write under the luckof bright moonlight.
The bamboo scroll is now burningin the dark night.My grandfather belches—he has swallowed the deathof his son, forbidden to diebefore him.He can only wait now,for the next life, when he,a water buffalo, carries his sonon his back while he grazes on the meadow.
The chestnuts, my father’s favorite,are roasting in the flame of fortune,shaped like shu-zhu prayer beadsthat circle in Buddha’s hands,as the rotation of the earth.

On this elevated fresh soil,I spread lotus seeds,pomegranates, rice cakes,all my father’s favorite eats.Through the long hours of darkness,I keep watch, waiting for himto break out of his grave,as a firefly, to light the night.

JJ Chen Henderson’s works of fiction and poetry appear in Palo Alto Review, Concho River, Sagebrush Review, The Dream Catcher, and The Comstock Review. She lives in West Texas with her husband and their nine-year-old daughter, Kate.