Sally Wen Mao
Notes on the City of Sprinting Feet
—after Bei Dao
Find it in the fire escapes,
the gnawed knuckles, the rye bread.
Find it tiptoeing past the sleeping sunflowers.
The night is an orgy of cuts & splintered
toes. Paper planes whiz in every direction.
Inside the honey jar, the last living lightning bug
lariats the rim of the universe.
Crack open a fresh apple core,
& find in there a wriggling baby.
This baby will grow into a worm into a boy into a caterpillar.
How is it that winter turns something wild like water
into a limpid ornament that hangs from a rooftop?
Cosmological jazz!-the missing kites all clap inside the trees.
Look close enough; see how palpable each face really is.
The piñata tied to an oak
looks to the east, where the sun sets, subliming the sky.
The flutes that hide around it come out to play.
An ornamental ostrich egg has sat all its life
in a museum of porcelain.
Tonight's the night the screaming cat music
breaks the glass and sets it free.
A dozen children ride their bicycles over a poppy field.
The babysitter kisses the crowns of their heads.
A red ball never stops bouncing against the sky.
Strange how the motherland is motherless.
It cannot suckle its own earth.
Find it sifting through crocodile silt waters.
Find it tangled in the drowned lotus root.
Find it spoon-feeding its child death with milk.