Lit Writ: Chinatown

Graphic Michelle Lannen

I want to walk around chinatown at dusk

and see the lanterns and go into a tea house,

smell the shrimp-and-soyu in the cold crisp air because I

I’ve been craving long walks alone

I’ve been thinking of far-reaching roads with their respective light posts

tearing the city map east-west

I’ve been thinking of the smoke that comes out of chimneys and the

color of the sky

in chinatown at dusk

I’ve been thinking of the overarching sheets of concrete above my head

when I cross
a street so wide I get lost in the openness that I can’t

I’ve been thinking of tiny hands reaching for tickling crab feet in a water tank

that sailed around the pacific and I wonder

if my surimi remembers how it feels when the wet sand rubs on your skin

and I wonder

if my nose will remember how it felt when I walked past the red gates and
I’ve been thinking of a cool purple hades and a three-headed dragon

with peony garlands

all colours of light reflected on my cold, red cheeks

cars wave by me as I think he was wrong to have ever said “forget it, jake”

and now my breath disperses in the night air, there is no way 

I’d ever stay away because I always like to walk down this street
in chinatown at dusk.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 21, published February 1, 2011.