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Taipei Nights

Mist in the small alleys 

like white veils covering the dirt

whiffs of sweet tofu broth

steaming and white

and tofu vendors

pounding the paths between

low brick walls

their calls in the night 

like the pathos of tofu

spread thinly on brick

City dwellers 

a bamboo flute cries unexpectedly

from an open window

like a swan stifling in pollution

heavy incense wafts from a miniature temple

and in the shadows someone mourns 

the day – lost

profit – lost

a lover – lost


This, the city of loss

of disappearances

where friends meet in groups

treating each other to meals

toasting always toasting

with shaoshing rice wine

the amber liquid of polite conversation

obligations like chopsticks

useful and abundant

and the serving girl

clicks her chopsticks

cutting yard-long noodles

friendships like noodles

long but cut

with a violent clack of the chopsticks


The city of disappearances

where plum blossoms

fall over the garden wall

into the gutter

and dissolve like watercolors

city of disappearances

where art is wrapped up

like so many little dragon dumplings

and promptly devoured by schoolboys

city of buses

to anywhere 

buses full of rain-stained windows

like veils and white tofu 

blurring the loss

of the friends and the swans

the blossoms and art


City of resigned women

taught from childhood

how to obey and endure

and anyway too tired

at the end of the day

to mourn.

© 2024 Gail Tirone. All rights reserved.

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