The Mountains

“The Mountains,” photography, from The Mountains, 1999




Home is where you feel comfortable. The making of home in a new land, however, comes with the uneasy feeling of being a stranger. Continually, we weave the old and the new together through our bodies and souls. It is within the clash of two cultures that we were simultaneously destroyed and reborn.

My family

Under the clouds

Moves from one land to another

Struggling between cultures

Not knowing to which we belong

Even though the flowers are falling

The fruits will appear later

When the maple leaves rest

On the ground

My family finally settles down

We are like seeds

In the depths of this land

Absorbing fresh water and light

Straining to put down roots

But blossoming will soon follow

And then at last bearing fruit

A flower

A leaf

A cloud

A deep breath

Bringing with it

A new life

Gu Xiong


Me And You


Each time I see you,

I see myself;

I see the past and the present.

We both came from China,

You stayed inside the grand institution,

I stayed in a dark basement.

People came to admire you,

But can you hear their praise?

Or speak your gratitude?

I could hear, but I couldn’t speak.

I guess then, you are the same as me.

You came here before me,

You found your home here and made it bright.

This, is my new home,

I will make it bright as you did to yours.

At last,

I have learned about your visitors,

Their culture and society,

And I became one part of them.

It was painful but the joy came after.

I will come back to see you often,

And share my experience with you.

From your mouth I hear silence,

But I can feel your spiritual voice,

You said to me,

The four seas are our home.

Gu Xiong


For Ge Ni, the Canadian…


We know it was hard

but we can never know how hard

for how hard could it be

for a woman with such a smile?

In Canada, when two cars collide

we call the people inside

accident victims.

In Canada, when two cultures collide

we call the people in them


Both are heavy with loss.

It is as if

you went to sleep

and awoke to find the weave of the world

unraveled, rewoven,

the familiar textures and patterns of living


Then, as in an accident,

having to re-learn everything.

Learning as a child was easy

we knew nothing else

but learning as an immigrant


The comfortable ways

fled, vanished

like a car in the night.

Having to practice here

what needed no practice there,

each word, so easy there,

a labor here.

Not wanting to say the wrong thing

unsure of the right thing

knowing you could say it there

afraid to say it here.

Wishing to be heard,

to understand,

but above all

wishing to be yourself again.

We can not feel what you feel

but we can see what you can not see.

We see you.

Your hands, moving across a table

in grace and light

your smile, coming out

like a best friend coming out to play

so warm


glaciers are melting.

And know this:

we who are born here

not there

who feels its rivers

coursing in our veins

its mountains in our bones

its forests waving in our hands

its oceans washing our dreams,

know this is a better country today

because of you.

James Lamb and family

December 5, 1995