Over Beibei

marble balcony of Southwest's international dorm
my back to the 5th floor pillars, an overlook
to the entry and the north road winding into campus

somewhere notes i wrote there about central China's humid nights and
the stumbles of her imperial wander to power

footsteps come up the staircase inside, laughter and perfume billow
to me
on the balcony
Friday excited and freed electric
alive with sex and the like-nothing-else open sky of new country
and I smile, close eyes against stone

the Germans have a party
Zimbabweans, Brazilians,Tanzanians
and somehow they all know Portuguese
but its a Russian tongue that finds me on the window stoop
fixed on me, despite her friends
generous of confidence and space

she can't know the barriers in my chest,
built there slowly by my hands rubbed clean
of prayer and guilt like sediment from the strange strength of a monastic youth
how already twisting in my lungs was a different answer to her offer,
one that saw and reached for the thread uninterrupted
between her hair and the eastern night that waved it just so

that she was part of an answer to 'why'
about all things
that creation's line ran through her
that though I would struggle with cowardice
my kin were the currents in Jin Dao gorge and the 800 year old stone
along the Lijiang streams
that I was not as young and new
as the wretched language of no I had mastered

but i learned slower than that balcony would've wanted for me
heroes were made and lost in the air

and the fire of human newness
brilliant faces and only-first-names lit mad with want
in the stowed-aside marble coves of earth's raucous balconies
cannot be served
in frightened posture or
the slinking away of the soul

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