The Last Son of China

April 3, 2011, Ai Weiwei was detained at the Beijing Airport

..……………..hello hello hello…Weiwei…where have you been?…I see you in dreams…bleeding…in the darkness of the sun…79 spots in the flame…each a nightmare one cannot wake up from…Weiwei…the last son…you told me as we said goodbye…your last night on the Lower East side…未未…the last child of your Mother and Father…born in the labor camp…exiled from Beijing to the far desert…

watching your Father clean public latrines for singing the truth…beaten cursed spat upon at every street corner… why did you want to return?…I asked…did NYC streets no longer stir your blood?…or the Blackjack in Atlantic City get stale?…you smiled…as you flung dumpling skins out of my 13th floor window…I need to go home…to my father…I need to speak…speak indeed…Weiwei…with your big mouth that earned whips and bricks ever since you learned to talk…and love from the people…the small…the poor…the nameless…babies poisoned by fake milk who had no time to cry mama…children crushed under schools… their bags flew across the sky like a dragon…seeking their names…you raked through the rubble…through government files…hide-and-seek with cops…beaten until your brain hemorrhaged …and you speak…in Germany…Tiananmen Square…you speak… watching your studio ransacked… bulldozed…and you speak…threatened…under house arrest … and you speak…inviting the guards into your studio for a cup of tea…and you speak …I’m used to pain…you say…and I’m ready to die suddenly or to disappear…I’m the last son… you say…to your tormentors’ eyes… I’m here for you… so your babies will never again have to drink milk laced with poison…so your daughter will never wonder when the classroom ceiling will drop on her…so your parents will have shelter medicine food… so you will never have to work at this job…avoiding my eyes as you burn cigarettes into my chest…push my face under the water…I’m here for you…all of you who speak the truth…for China…hello hello hello…未未…I mean why can’t you keep your mouth shut and enjoy what you have…I mean you got money…I mean you got fame…I mean you got a beautiful wife and a two-year-old son…don’t you want him to grow up like a normal child?…but I am the son…the last son of China…I have to speak as long as I have breath…no matter how thin…even if you tear out my tongue…I’ll still have my teeth…even if you pull out my teeth…I’ll still have my eyes… even if you gouge out my eyes…I’ll still have my ears…even if you pierce my eardrums…I’ll still have my hands… even if you chop off my hands…I’ll still have my guts …even if you grind up my guts… I’ll still have my heart that won’t stop beating… even if you smash my heart into a million pieces… they will turn into a billion sunflower seeds… I mean how can you stop a sunflower from facing the sun…how can you stop the sun from lighting up the earth…hello hello hello…Ai Weiwei…9 weeks have passed…79 days and nights …1,896 hours…that’s 6,825,600 heartbeats from each of us…whose heartstrings are tied to yours…未未…the last son of China…艾未未…pulse of the earth……….……

J.P., a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus, has a big mouth for truth and justice, and a big heart for all the sentient beings and this planet. Melissa Tuckey is poetry editor for FPIF and a founding member of Split This Rock.