Let Me Tell You About China

Walking down the stairs to my bedroom after travelling is surreal.
The wood of the railing, the slip of my socks against the painted steps…
After so many new places, so much unknown,
This is the same.
When I am different, why is it the same?
It shouldn’t be.

China’s too hot to think about unnecessary things.
Fear sweats away in the noonday sun and the mountain air.
But now the cool basement envelops me;
The dryness catches around my wrists.
“Let me tell you who you really are.”

The whisper of clouds and the crunch of numbing pepper
The hard seat of a bike as we weave through traffic
The rhythm of Mandarin and the curl of my tongue as I thank her brokenly
The rough concrete as we climb the roof to behold the moon
Playing an erhu for the first time…

They have changed me.

I have lost the voices in my head, telling me I am worthless
(The heat drove them out)
And I am in love with their absence.

Wooden rails and painted steps,
Cool air and dry breezes:
Let me tell you about China, instead.

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