I interrupt a selfie in Guilin
I interrupt a selfie in Guilin, northwest of
Guangzhou, east of Eden.
The tourist yells at me in Mandarin, but it’s too
late. My jacket sticks out like a
Red Guard arm band in the back of her
photos. I wade around but
everyone else is doing the same thing as
her: hopelessly trying
to take a picture that doesn’t include the
crowd. I give up, and
watch the fog roll through the hills that
looked unlike any hills I had seen before.
My tour guide says they’re special because
they can be whatever you want them to be:
a cat’s ears, a camel’s hump, even 20 RMB.
When Sappho looks at the hills, she sees
Aphrodite. When I look, I see everything else.
The cormorant’s chained neck, the crown of my
dad’s head when they arrested him,
my grandma as a girl bowing to Japanese soldiers,
a taxi driver’s blank stare when i speak Cantonese,
my mom’s permanently swollen hands.
In Yangshuo, Syphisus joins our bus tour. He trades
the boulder for beer battered fish
and we share a cigarette on gwai lo gai. When you’ve
carried the world on
your back for this long, you can do whatever
the hell you want.
I wonder, when a satyr looks in the mirror,
does he see a man?
When I look, I see Mary Magdalene with
the smoking flame.
By Alison Zheng
Alison Zheng graduated from UC Davis w/ an English degree a million years ago. She’s a Scorpio Sun/Pisces Moon. She thinks writing is tight.