Green Hills Literary Lantern





Long Night


On a wide scroll of whiteness, a long,
dotted line of tuxedoed figures trudge
for miles to return
to their birthplace.
Antarctic winter: frigid, gusty and sunless.
The penguins huddle for warmth,
shuffle around to take turns
at the flock’s cold perimeter.
Their human-like bearing draws me in.
Now, my underbelly covers an egg
balanced on my webbed feet.
Dozing or shifting, I never let it touch ice.
Though weak with nothing to eat,
southern lights’ color and shape
varying, wavering, I hold firm
onto my egg, my life.


Li C. Tien, born in China, now a retired Ph.D. engineer living in Midland, Michigan, has poems published in journals including Mathematical Intelligencer, Nimrod International Journal, Orbis Quarterly International Literary Journal and Poet Lore.  He and John Palen coauthored a chapbook Drizzle and Plum Blossoms (March Street Press, 2009) of translations of Song Dynasty poems.  His father was a poet and medical doctor.