Joan E. Bauer: Birthday in Beijing

Vox Populi

April thunderclouds in battleship formation

but the rain is light as we touch down.

At last, the swarming, noisy, candy-

colored streets of the city. Breakfast:

soy boiled eggs, red beans, dumplings,

strong coffee—four cups. For jet lag.

Tiananmen? Closed for ‘renovation’

& no one is surprised. So our guide Mr. Ho

distracts us, talking about love, Beijing-style,

how young people pay $11 for a broadcast ad,

while old-timers ballroom dance in the park.

There are still arranged marriages. A groom

doesn’t see the bride until the veil is lifted.

He tells us: In China it’s not rude to ask

personal questions, even of strangers.

That day Mr. Ho, our host, tells us what features

Chinese men most admire in women: oval face

dimples small mouth straight nose

 

That day, my companion is cranky.

I forget something in my room & again

I don’t hear (or remember) what he’s…

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