In China I remembered you only once:
the restaurant's speciality, chosen
from a braid of live varieties,
spiraled to the floor while the waiter
flayed it with a knife flicked
from his wrist. The snake made your initial
over and over the black tile.
What pain? Love's all touch
was the ideogram it made as it crossed
the hot stones to the table.
All rights reserved.
I wrote this after my husband returned from a gig as assistant director working with Lindsay Anderson who directed a movie about the first rock and roll band to visit China--WHAM, in fact. Then I waited nearly six years to figure out what the last line was.
Originally published in THE NEW YORKER, October 30, 1989.