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In My Quiet Hour


by Tora Chung

August 22, 1995


In memory of my dear late Papa on 

what would have been his 80th birthday.


In my quiet hour

I lie on my concrete lawn

All sheltered and thinking

Harsh echo of a midnight bus

Lingers in the liquid sky

And drifts into my head

Above the rows of thick dark houses

Lonely blue plastic boxes

Filled with old news

And empty metal

Stand tilted

Along the winding shores

Of this paved and plotted river


I dip my hand into

Its solid stream

But it stays dry

And thirsty

Still waiting for

Something to float by

Some taste or smell

Or touch to show itself

And say: “Believe it.

It’s real. It’s all real.”


And the tiny flashes

Of silver light

Sometimes show through

The fog and the dark

And laugh so brightly

That I’m almost

Knocked over

And I wonder

How will I ever shine

Like that so sharp

And deep and permanent

And how will I ever

Know to believe and say:

“It’s real. It’s all real.”


And then my brain

Quakes from all

This thinking

So I sit up and take

A breath

And start again


In my quiet hour

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