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Chinese Feast

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  • Chinese Feast

    Chinese Feast

    We sat at a large round table
    In glossy, black, high-backed chairs
    Surrounded by golden dragons snarling
    At each other on red walls and wrapping
    Themselves round
    Red pillars
    That held up
    A night with ten thousand bright stars
    And a bridge that spanned an ocean
    Of language and tradition
    I absorbed our surroundings
    And wondered how much of the bridge
    I would cross

    The seven-string zither sang
    Mournful notes that told
    Of lonely boats on lilting rivers
    Of cranes crying high in the bluest sky
    And of a lantern in the bare branches
    Of a cherry tree
    Blown out when a lover didn’t return
    Because so much snow fell
    That the mountain passes were closed
    We were 16 diners and I only knew
    One other person there
    We wanted one dish for each of us
    To be shared by all

    Most of us didn’t even see the menu
    The Chinese speakers among us
    Ordered in Chinese
    And soon a parade of steaming plates streamed
    To our table trailing mouth-watering aromas
    And laden with foods I never dreamed
    Existed and some that haunt my dreams still
    Chicken feet, all bone and gelatinous skin in a sauce
    Whose flavor I lost as I tried to hide my disgust
    And that I quickly strived to forget as far more tempting
    Food appeared in front of me –
    Perfect, plump shrimp and succulent pork
    And savory greens and on the lazy susan
    Slowly circling in the center of the table
    The masterpiece
    A huge fish, like a gift from the sea gods,
    With one lonely
    Staring at each of us
    The white flesh tasted so little
    Of the sea and so much
    Of clouds and starlight

    Unexpected entertainment came
    From a traditional Chinese wedding celebration:
    The bride on her knees rolling an egg
    Up inside her husband’s pants leg
    To where the limbs meet – all the guests suddenly
    Erupting in leering oohs and ahs
    And nervous giggles –
    And then back down the other leg
    To cheers and applause
    My dinner companions and I joined in
    And then we traded stories and laughed
    At how easy it is to cross bridges
    When you share a meal and smile

    I made it to the other side that night
    In my walk under Chinese constellations
    The bill came and no fortune was required:
    Sixteen dollars was the price we each paid
    For a journey none of us will soon forget

  • #2
    Love your descriptive language ... I can even still smell the place. Lots of important bridges to cross these days, so glad you made it. I think I've been there before too, so thanks for taking me back. What a great deal, eh? (By the way, forgive me if this response got posted twice, as I was having a technological glitch...) Enjoyable poem!


    • #3
      Thanks, bobby!


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