My mother was born in the days before the 228 Massacre. She never spoke directly of it during my childhood. When my own daughter was born, I started a series of poems under the working title “Scenes from History.” In this poem, I imagine my grandmother on the evening of February 27, 1947.

like most other evenings

she was nursing her two-week-old daughter

feeding her toddler son

her belly still bound tight after birth


when a neighbor came in to say



a woman, pistol-whipped for selling untaxed cigarettes

a passerby who came to her aid, killed


don’t go out if you don’t have to


the new baby slept through until daybreak


what silence



Woodcut “The Terrible Inspection” by Rong-zan Huang Jun Li (Rong-zan Huang) (1916-1952)