Mar 18


I haven't spoken Chinese in three months.
I left the restaurant
so using it hasn't been an immediate need.

I try to say hello
and ask if they have eaten
whenever I go in
but my tongue is too thick
and too slow
to properly enunciate.
I've forgotten the intricate rise and fall in tones
and the phonetics.
I couldn't write it if I tried.
Pinyin is over accented in my head
and characters aren't making sense.

"The cooks miss you."
my boss says.
She misses me the most, I think.
Or maybe she misses my work ethic,
eager to please
and too quiet to defend myself.

I think the cooks miss my face.
I couldn't say much to them
other than broken orders,
I love you,
and common greetings.
The only fun thing I knew
was a single insult,
and it was idiot.

I don't think they miss me.
I think they miss the idea of me.

I don't miss China.
I miss the idea of China,
familiarly foreign,
and gently forgotten.