Django in Hang-Zhou
He is waiguo ren: foreigner. When he walks to
the market his dark head sees over theirs as if
he were a child, held on his father’s shoulders.
They point at him and stare.
He is twenty-one,
and empty as a thousand-years old wine jug.
He is also in love, not with what is foreign
in Hang-Zhou, but with what is most himself–
the cold and ancient lake, the blue mountains,
and in spring with the puffs of dust that followed
the galloping carts of emperors. I think he was
among the watchers that lined the streets when
these trees were small.
I asked him once,
Why is it that Mandarin’s so easy for you?
Because I’m a musician, he said, which was
like the doll, that still has many dolls inside.
Lola Haskins is a director of From the Fishouse. She is the author of eight collections of poetry. Django in Hang-Zhou is from The Rim Benders (Anhinga Press, 2001).
Poem, copyright © Lola Haskins, 2001
Appearing on the Fishouse with permission
Audio file, copyright © 2005, From the Fishouse