ORIENTATION


Walking by Washington Square, to catch

a cable car on the Powell-Mason line

to take us to our Geary Street hotel,

we paused to watch some Chinese elders

at Tai Chi on the lawns before the church –

their graceful and controlled aggression.

We passed a raised bed – the label told us –

of ‘Collinsia heterophylla

aka Purple Chinese Houses –

so-called because of the pagoda shape

of the blooms.’ In the middle of the bed,

crushing some of the flowers, was a pair

of well kept men’s black patent leather shoes,

walking, as it were, in the general

direction of Ghiradelli Square.

 

That evening, as we walked down Stockton Street

to Chinatown, we saw ahead a woman

standing in the centre of the sidewalk

seemingly looking across the street –

a Chinese woman in late middle age

wearing a cocktail dress in faded cream.

As we passed, she began, very loudly,

to sing: ‘I left my heart…’

 

 

 

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