suzanne wang

Yangzhou

June 27, 2019

that summer, when the whole campus stumbled
into a drunken haze from the thick summer air
you and I ran, giddy towards the gate
and shimmied out
our bus fare jingling,
clinking as we
hopped on next to the nainai
and their empty grocery bags
all bounding ahead toward the same destination
just past the construction cranes and abandoned fields
our bodies swaying the same beat,
rhythm set by the coughing engine.

thrust into the fluorescent brightness
and cold blast of AC,
we picked out
a small watermelon
bag of shrimp chips
erasers shaped like toast
chocolate imported from America
and two soft serve ice cream cones to share
one from KFC and one from the local ayi,
always swirled,
because we could never decide which was better,
both creamy and luscious and sweeter than we remembered,
sticky sap dripping onto our chins and clothes.

we laughed, floating
in our little cocoon,
impenetrable to our sorrows
that we barely knew how to recognize,
the only sameness as we plunged between different worlds
kicking and screaming
never quite learning how to swim,
your face my only guide.