Maggie Wang

 

The only time I wouldn't berate you for eating too much sugar is when

 

we walk through that city—city of thistles and swallows, city of light,

secluded city on the edge of the plains, city seated at the right hand of

heaven, city called the capital of its own universe—when we walk

through that city spilling flakes of red lotus flour onto the streets,

where they mix with smashed cigarette butts and the pencil shavings

of seven generations of plein air artists, which look like miniature leaf

litter with their reds and oranges and browns and which the silence of

winter preserves in all their colours beneath the smatterings of coal

dust gathering on their backs like toasted black sesame blown

from the doors of a nearby bakery, from where, some also suspect,

roses are born in spring, their petals stuck together with honey lacquer

and scattered into tree pits, where they garnish the air the way the baker

signs his handiwork with the names of all the fruits I didn’t know

in my mother tongue until now—ginger, hawthorn, jujube, pineapple,

apricot, pumpkin. On the afternoons when I don’t berate you for eating

too much sugar, we walk through that city shoulder-to-shoulder and look

up through the exuberant smog until the scents of cinnamon and car exhaust,

green pea and coal smoke wash over us and love for a thing neither

of us can name bursts forth like an herb garden in uncontrolled bloom.