Pui Ying Wong

Rue Delambre
June 22, 2023 Wong Pui Ying

Rue Delambre


As soon as the plane takes off the city
is but a memory, gum


sky, wet pavements,
is the market still open in Edgar Quinet,


the pews filled in the church of St. Sulpice?
Le Dome, La Coupole are never without lights


where once Josephine Baker sauntered in
with a pet-cheetah, Hemingway in Bar Dingo


and now it’s Naoko, lover of all things French
cutting my hair in her cozy salon


the way Rodin chipped a block of marble into The Kiss.
Afterwards she brings me a tin cup


of chocolat chau,
“I’m from Hokkaido. It’s utterly cold there


—you know?”, I, too
am from somewhere else, my life


made of longing, arriving and departing,
each city a new dawn,


Rue Delambre—


it’s ghosts thriving, no longer bothered
by the what-might-have-been,


the cruelty of long goodbyes,
whispers on the crowded streets


as December’s penumbra light
pours over endless traffic


till night is overcome,
and I see in the mirror the blessed Naoko.

Pui Ying Wong’s new poetry collection FANLING IN OCTOBER is forthcoming from Barrow Street Press. She has written three other full-length books of poetry: The Feast, An Emigrant’s Winter and Yellow Plum Season —-along with two chapbooks. She has received a Pushcart Prize. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Plume Poetry, Chicago Quarterly Review, New Letters, Zone 3 and The New York Times, among many others. Born and raised in Hong Kong, she lives in Cambridge Massachusetts with her husband, the poet Tim Suermondt.