Lǎowài

Watched with curiosity & disdain:
I am the Other that is foreign,
a strange monkey not understanding Chinese ways.

I am the barbarian storming the imperial gates
& monk from shrouded mountains far away.
I am the haughty British opium merchant
with paunchy belly and teeth decayed.
I am the village drunkard
seemingly harmless but crazed.
I am the harlot sold into bondage
so her parents can eat another day.
I am the demented school teacher
whose calligraphy is above disdain.
I am the aging eunuch
whose testicles sit in a porcelain vase.

I am all of these
& continually bending norms.
I am that which some pray for
but which most scorn:
I am each revolution allowing the old to repaint its face:

Off with the emperor's head
so that he may reign again and again!

An-Yi: This poem is counter-revolutionary! In my village, it would be burned.
Daiki: To the contrary – I believe it suggests a real revolution involves something more than replacing one ruling class with another.
Chariya: Real revolution? (laughing dryly) Perhaps changing human DNA is needed for that.
Bhäraté: Do you think our genes are the problem?
Chariya: (scratching his head) I don't know what to think anymore. Maybe we should think less and observe more?