Celestials Built the Transcontinental Railroads

22 07 2006

By Hans Tan

I heard celestials built the great railroad
That crosses the Sierra Nevada,
Where east meets west.
I imagine other worldly beings
Too alien to interpret through humans senses
Dotting the naked landscape of chiseled earth
Within low, high, and in-between crests.
Marching through merciless desert dunes
So dry that even the air itself is lifeless.
They make way for miles of steel ties and tracks,
Speaking in their own galactic gabble
That would make the average American man back then
Question their baked yellow skin.
Question their slant-riddled, dusty brown eyes.
Question their skinny crossed up legs.
Question their humble bows and gestures.
Question their mud stained bamboo hats
Question their porcelain rice bowls
Question their delicate chopsticks
Question their ching chang chong.

Question these celestial Chinese men
Who brought East and West together
Without answers.

*A poem dedicated to the Chinese immigrants who sacrificed everything to build the Transcontinental railroad across the Sierra and beyond during the late 19th century in America, these workers did not request any recognition or need for it, they represent the true meaning of being patriotic and doing what was right, that is, serving a cause without question or asking for anything in return.*




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