Footing off the tin tunnel into a wanton airport of bouncing black hair, rummage among the piles of passports, papers and endless red stamps Hello! (they will shout) Welcome to China! Come stay here! The "Hello Taxi!" man angles you a sharp and sticky leer that rebounds off the neon bars, plastic rainbows and painted tramps, who roam on silver shoes over silken streets of dried blood. Welcome to China! Hello T-Shirt! Come stay here! A blurred knife wails over a chicken in headless-body dance, And the Middle Kingdom stares while you finish your beer. Buoyant bouncing pop music pounds from the stores. Polluted dragons strike the air, merging in your stomach sick, as you dodge a poorly aimed Hello! That slices past you, zinging with an ancient dread-eyed cheer. The Panda sits -- his will lost somewhere over The Wall -- and cries into his bamboo. His tears topple from red-tiled roofs, slant off thatched hats and paper lamps, plunking into buckets set out for the later soaking of long white beards. She touches your hand, and you feel her burnt black hair. Skin shimmers in the greasy room by the television -- that secret smile in her glance. Divine winds plough the sky, her eyes shine clear. Hello, Welcome to China, come, you stay here?
Originally published as an online web extra for The Grinnell Magazine, Fall 2008