Walking through the crowded market streets
where nobody knows my name or speaks my language
and it doesn’t matter, where my eyes are not as almond-shaped
nor my skin as pale nor lips as full, and it doesn’t matter,
I’m also two people now. One is taciturn
and goes tone deaf at the name of God.
The other is a jailbird: isolated deep in my thought
he knows the whole block I’m walking
is an undiminished bar of eighth notes
on the larger scale of the street. The whole city
is a divertimento, streets undulating back
to some overture of first creation I can’t begin to imagine.
Isn’t it a happy accident, then,
to learn that just around the corner
the World Theater is playing a movie
called Anxious to Return, a little corroboration
that our desire to be where we belong
survives our dislocations. And good fortune, too,
to have these market signs. It doesn’t matter
what language they’re painted in, they translate
to music for a thousand mouths: Hing Lung, Wee Wah,
Sun Sang in the narrow streets: bright red
keys to the city, passwords that help us enter
the province of the living once again.
Have some poems you treasure that you’d like to share with fellow aid workers and do-gooders? Please send them my way at firstname.lastname@example.org!