Tag Archives: China



I enrolled in grad school in China.
After I moved into residence
but before new student orientation
my mother came to visit.
I took her to McDonalds.
It was the custom
to take a nap
after your meal
and the seats and tables
folded into beds
so we slept.
While we were sleeping
the staff collected our clothing
and hung it in a large closet.
After a long nap we awoke
but could not find our clothes.
A purple sequinned tank top
had been placed at the foot of the bed.
A woman held up the top,
pulled it over her head and walked away.
I wrapped myself in a fuzzy brown blanket
and followed the crowd to the closet where people
grabbed clothes and stuffed them into their bags.
I said, “Hey, people are stealing clothes in here.”
No matter how hard I tried
I couldn’t find my yoga pants.

*This was a dream I have not embellished.
If you want to be a Counselor, you must be ready to say, “Yes of course. I believe you completely.”
This is equally true if you plan to travel.

Train story: Shanghai to Beijing

12346578From Shanghai to Beijing
in five hours
and 30 minutes
in the “sight-seeing car”
at the cone-shaped end
of a bullet train.

Five hours and a half
of yellow dust-scape
near nowhere,
impenetrable highrises
dropped by
disproportionately large aliens
on their way home.

The reincarnation
of Mao himself
slept soundly
in the seat
beside us.

When Mao disappeared
into the dust-day,
a woman claimed
the window seat.
leaning into the view.

Perhaps she had
to see more
than the dust
on the trip
Shanghai and Beijing.

An Afternoon in Shanghai’s Old City, Part 2

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1. Oh! The light!
2. There is that orange knapsack again.
3. In the last photograph, the woman is covering her nose because she has just encountered durian, a fruit that (from my perspective, at least) smells quite a lot like an open sewer.
4. Which photo is your favourite?

An Afternoon in Shanghai’s Old City, Part 1

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Chinatown always has me at nín hǎo*.
Three old men in grey cardigans
talk about the good old days.
A woman in an orange baseball cap
fries dumplings on the street.
Jangles of cheap jewelry
hang precariously
in a store window.
Pink-cheeked kids run
ahead of their parents.
An old woman in a red apron
sweeps the street
in front of her store.

One of my first Chinatown visits
was in Washington D.C.
before a Dixie Chicks concert.
I called DPs house
and talked to his dad.
“Be careful”, he said.
“I’m in Chinatown.
What could go wrong?”

Now, in Yokohama,
our apartment
is just outside the gates
of Chinatown.
It’s very popular
with young Japanese lovers.
A quick train ride
from Tokyo,
an exotic afternoon
of Chinese sights
and smells
so close to home.

Shanghai’s Old City,
which we visited in March,
is THE Chinatown
of all Chinatowns.
Ancient. Crowded. Electric.
It stole my breath
and left me with these photos.
Enjoy the tour.

  • Nín hǎo means hello in Mandarin.

French Concession Crush

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The French Concession.
My favourite Shanghai neighbourhood.
A coincidence that it feels like Europe?
I don’t think so.

{Also, I would follow that orange knapsack
to the very ends of the earth.}

Soundtrack for this post: Body and Soul
by Cecile McLorin Salvant
(Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the audio track.)