kuo zhang

A promise to a child isn’t hard to keep.

Even if what he yearns for is something

funny, you can’t bear to see him weep.


You can promise every day: cheap

stickers, an ice cream cone, more swing

time. A promise to a child isn’t hard to keep.


Then promise bigger, promise deep

love, and company, and Grandma’s gold ring

for a future beloved. All yours Boy, don’t weep!


Promise Captain Marvel, a Wrangler jeep.

He doesn’t like Sun Wukong, your Monkey King.

Fine! A promise to a child isn’t hard to keep.


Go ahead, promise Ivy Leagues, mountains steep

as Qomolangma, cosmic travel. Just kidding!

He knows, he knows, he ceases to weep.


Finally, promise a room, always a place to sleep,

no need to book. And some dumpling

soup— a parent’s promise isn’t hard to keep,

though it may be hard (for you) not to weep.




Kuo Zhang is a Ph.D. candidate and graduate teaching assistant in TESOL & World Language Education at the University of Georgia. She has a book of poetry in both Chinese and English, Broadleaves (Shenyang Press). Her poem “One Child Policy” was awarded second place in the 2012 Society for Humanistic Anthropology [SHA] Poetry Competition held by the American Anthropology Association. She served as poetry & arts editor for the Journal of Language & Literacy Education in 2016-2017 and also one of the judges for 2015 & 2016 SHA Poetry Competition.