Mrs. Tanky Man - Poem by Eugene Levich
Mrs. Tanky Man
I called her,
Though she was never a Taitai (a Mrs.)
Darton refusing to marry anyone,
American professor (Comparative Literature) before the War
At National Peking (That’s how they used to spell Beijing) University
Sent to a Nip (That’s what we used to call the Japanese) concentration camp;
He didn’t touch a woman in 3½ years.
He didn’t like that.
He bought a lovely house overlooking the harbor
At Tan-shui (That’s how they used to spell Danshui) ,
Went up into the hills
And purchased five beautiful daughters from
“Paradise, ” he called it.
“One cooked, one cleaned, one shopped...”
And he refused to learn Chinese.
Couldn’t bear the thought of studying another language,
Especially one as hard as Chinese.
He knew so many languages already—
Latin, Greek, French, German,
And, of course, English.
And the Chinese officials, he said,
Distrusted foreigners who could speak
Their language. Those officials provided him
With all the assistance he needed.
He refused to allow his concubines to learn English.
“Language just gets in the way of love! ”
He refused to marry anyone; “Children are a mere conceit! ”
The last of his concubines,
In her forties,
He in his seventies
He bought her properties
To keep her after he died.
He had taken care of all his concubines.
She was not right in the head;
Terrible things she had seen
During The War and After.
He taught her to speak Pidgin English
And he laughed when she spoke.
I had a problem in my apartment.
“Me catchee tanky-man come chop chop fixy fixy.”
[I’ll get the heating tank man to come quickly to fix it.]
And she didn’t like me, either...
Because I wasn’t married,
Just like Darton,
Who didn’t give her “Face”
By marrying her.
As I said,
She wasn’t right
In the head.
But who is?
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