I’ve been this way before
remembering first shopping experiences
mockery, being taken advantage of
and the warm encouraging smiles.
If I still remember numbers in French
and use them in Hebrew
Chinese is not impossible.

I’ve been this way before
and yet—not quite—
now I know my vulnerable parts
am too aware of weaknesses
waiting to grab me
understand these pangs and longings
for what they are.

I thought I’d been here before
but perhaps I’m wrong
the flavor is different
boiled in oil,
sliding through me to tell
a different tale
with quite a different


7 October 1995 (Tianjin, China)