My legs carry me among women and men, babies and children.
I wince at the glare of the frying sun.
My body shifts in unbalanced strides, but no one sees me.
The New York wind combs
And straightens my messy hair to strings of fine black silk.
The clouds atop are a mass of frozen ocean;
A blue elastic stretching for hours.
The streetlights flash green, red, and orange.
Our destination lies among the cars, the cafes, the shops,
And the gossipers.
Ours legs persist in walking
Simultaneously with the flash of that little white man.
Careful not to collide into strangers,
So many heads like redwood trees in front of us.
The toss of a woman’s brown hair, tall as a supermodel.
My 5’2 figure petitely falls in step with her.
Straight ahead to the right, I see,
A man’s backwards John Deere baseball cap.
Distracted, my gaze refocuses to the left.
An old lady mumbles to herself.
Cars immobile in traffic, donut smell drifts into our noses.
Avoiding all contact we stride as if we are leashed.
Conformity puts us in a race to the finish line.
Towards the exact destination to nowhere.
I choose to walk, feeling anonymous,
Nobody sees me.
Suddenly, a stranger, isolated from the crowd,
From the opposite direction, walks towards us.
Oblivious to the raise of arched eyebrows,
His brown eyes pause on my face, for a second.
The chaotic city streets swim in a blur of traffic.
My face, motionless in his memory, will soon be forgotten.
So we keep moving,
And every now and then, there comes a new stranger,
Strutting in our direction.
I’m still anonymous.
I’ll take that stranger’s route the next time.
This is a reprint of work originally published in Dimsum: Asia’s Literary Journal.
Ha Kiet Chau is a poet and freelance writer. She teaches art and literature in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her writings have appeared or are forthcoming in Plougshares, Asia Literary Review, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Bedtime-Story, Marco Polo, and many others.