(Carry on, Carry on.)
Little brother, you watched our stepmother
boil me in a pot, you were forced to gather
firewood. You found a white bird
who gave you cedar branches, wove you
gold clothing. We had told father to remarry,
we trusted and lost. So you go
with your stepsister to my husband,
the prince, and she is wearing a veil, and
you call her Chu, my name, my wedding dress.
In the forests you are lonely, you call
and I visit as a white bird. (Carry on, Carry on.)
In the palace you sleep in the fire grate,
on tatami mats. I tell you to hide there,
you are found by the prince
who has married my stepsister in my name.
The false Chu is killed. You fill earthenware bowls
with water for me. When the sun rises,
you pull me from the King of the next world,
back to my buried body. I return to you.
I marry my rightful husband, return to my name
to protect you, watch over you
in this world and the next. Never fear, little brother,
that the white bird will forget. Keep to your prayers
and I will find you. Carry on, Carry on.
About the Author: Jeannine Hall Gailey's poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, Rattle, The Columbia Poetry Review, and other journals. She is the author of one collection, Becoming the Villainess, and one chapbook, Female Comic Superheroes. She lives in Seattle. For more information, visit the author's blog.
Copyright © 2007 by Jeannine Hall Gailey. This poem may not be reproduced in any form without the author's express written permission.