Flumes Vol. 5: Issue 1, Summer 2020 - Page 83


Monologue of a Ginkgo Tree

By Haolun Xu


I'm helping my mom clean her apartment.

There's a photograph she finds,

that of me as a baby, being held by my parents.

It's a beautiful picture.

My mother's hair is short in this photo,

and she wears a pink windbreaker and a striped white sweater.

Behind her, the eye catches a ginkgo tree, green and yellow and blurry.

My father, my grandmother, all of China is holding the camera.

I carry a taro popsicle in my mouth

and my eyes are too big to stare directly at the camera.

Bundled up in blue, yellow, red, one can't tell if I'm a boy or a girl.

It is my claim to happiness, it is proof.


I yell at her. What magic is this?

This is betrayal. Who painted this,

who made this image?

This is nothing at all. That is no child.

That is a porcelain doll to carry around, it has tricked you all.

There's no names on the photograph.

There are only two strangers frozen in place.

Neither of them look at me, neither of them remember me.

I show my daughter later this very picture.

She says it does not look like me at all.

At night, I cannot sleep from the disgust.