Lǎowài:

The Othering of Self

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 & teeth decayed.

I am the village drunkard
seemingly harmless but crazed.

I am an impoverished girl sold into prostitution
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 rest in a cracked porcelain vase.

I am all of these
& continually bending norms.

I am that which some pray for
and other scorn:
I am each revolution that allows
the old to become the new:

Off with the emperor's head
May he again reign!