George Ian Thomas, “Trina’s Eyes Made Me See” – Honorable Mention, Adult

Trina’s Eyes Made Me See

by George Ian Thomas


Another snowy March sun hidden past two o’clock
          Chicago doing what Chicago does
The crew swinging through Chinatown for food and laughs
          Singing chimes about brew, jackets, and Cubs

Doug Jones helps a Chinese lady cross the street
          Her cracked face and jangly walk hint at years
She smiles; she carries a fantastic, honest mouth and great soul
          Her eyes throw kindness and absence of fear

“We’ll help you to where you’re going,” I say, my words falling out
          “I’m going here,” she says, eyes shining bright
“But, it’s so cold,” Doug says, looking high with sideways snow squint
          “I must do.” The city painted in white

“Take this, read on train,” she says as red line station sits steps away
          A pamphlet, ‘one in a hundred,’ I think
I ascend the metal, slippery stairs with Doug, Karina, Nick, and Mark
          Back to Ravenswood for bar food and drink

On platform, waiting for train, I read the pamphlet and shutter
          Doug looks up the facts on his iPhone; sighs
The terrible shutdown of a beautiful practice for inhumane reasons
          It is obvious to our open eyes

We gather ‘round Chinese lady, offer our ears and our open hearts
          She tells of imprisoned sister and friends
The truth in her soul, the goodness in her speech
          When we ask, she tells; what else can we lend?

“Tell anyone who will listen,” she pleads, and we all nod
          “Why is Falun Gong so scary?” I ask
“It is kindness, it is truth,” she says and gives a half-shrug
          “We are only good, we do not wear mask”

And so over the weeks, I keep coming back to that day
          Snow falling under Cermak el train tracks
I’ve watched videos, looked at countless pictures on google
          The imprisonment; the hatred; the cracks

Every Sunday for the entire month, I go alone to the Cermak stop
          I talk to the lady, learn about Wheel
Sadly, I see pictures of kind eyed people killed for their organs
          I cannot fathom that this is all for real

Yet, I believe, and I sigh and cry and churn and yearn
          Will we, the ones with voices, shut or speak?
Of all the abuses we see and hear about all over the world
          Here, in Chicago, our kind neighbors weep

So, for Li Hongzhi, Trina from the Cermak station stop,
          All of my brave, warm Heilongjiang friends
You have supporters in Chicago – wishing you well, we love you
          And we pray, from our faiths, for this to end

All you want is peace, so why is peace so far away?
          Buddha once said, “What we think, we become”
And though you miss your beloved China, sweet Trina under the tracks,
          Though it snows hard, Chicago is your home.


                                              * * *

Recognized as an Honorable Mention in the adult category of FoFG’s 2017 Poetry Contest

George Ian Thomas is a recovering Catholic from Yonkers, New York, who now calls Chicago home. He holds a Masters in Public Transportation Survival and, in between subway and bus trips, teaches high school English, Creative Writing, and 90s Nostolgia. His favorite movie is “Before Sunrise,” color is green, and pen is Energel. Stop and say hi when you see me in Ravenswood, Jeff Park, or Evanston. Let me keep shuffling if you see me on the Lake Path.