Guilin Noodles

     I lay a solid foundation of flimsy noodles.
     This is how I start my day.
     Everyday, the same rice flour foundation, every
noodle the same.
There is something comforting about this solid
foundation to my day, days
 which are never built or destroyed in quite the same
way.
     I lay a solid foundation of flimsy noodles.
     I lock up my apartment, four locks total, a
master-planned military
compound, master-planned with civilians in mind.

     I walk straight into a Chinese morning,
straight into the chaos
of seven forty-five.
     Men deliver their daughters to school on the backs of
motorbikes, and
 old women walk slowly and deliberately in the
national stride.
 Meditation and exercise meet somewhere between their
feet and their wheels and
the ground.
     They dance on my flimsy foundation.
     They dance on my noodles.
     I become part of it all.
     A foreigner walking.
     This is what wakes me up.
     I step onto the sidewalk that is paved with stones,
and I duck into a
 restaurant that is paved with laborers.
     I become part of it all.
     A foreigner eating.
     This is what fills me up.

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