The Middle Country

by Felix Jung

Like every tribe before us, we assumed
ourselves the focus of the sun, divine
inheritors of wind and mountain peaks.
Tsung Gwo, the Chinese name for China means
the middle country, center of the earth
and universe. To keep ourselves alone,
we built a wall more lasting than the land

it separated. Day by day, it spanned
two thousand years of lifting heavy stone
on stone, with countless dead — each body worth
its weight in brick, our corpses tucked between
the mortaring. Today, when raindrops leak
beneath the cracks, they trickle down to find
brown leaves, dry grass, old seeds that never bloomed.

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