Another flight overhead of the Arctic
Flying into smog-filled Beijing, the sky is a friend who has dyed her hair black
A friend who is a stranger, a friend who smokes.
Boarding the plane filled with those who have never been in the air
Who some consider to have never been anywhere at all
Traveling into their lives, my own life, into a nameless city
A dusty child comes bounding to my crumbling house, speaking of a magnificent kingdom
Rich with treasure.
Her clothes are worn and her hair is tangled.
She pulls me with her down an unpaved street filled with beggars.
She pulls me down an alley with stray hens and cats.
Into the magnificent kingdom
Clawing through the mountains of bounty
A tattered, stiff, blue teddy bear emerges in her small hands.
Her eyes shine and her smile is bright.
She pulls a box out of the hills of riches and lays it in front of me.
Setting her faded blue bear onto the cleanest corner of the cardboard
On top of the faded black Chinese characters that I cannot understand
Moving the empty, stained silver cannisters from our feet
She sits on the pavement
Content with somebody else's bear and somebody else's box.
A man, a royal guard, waters the tall, black gate with his golden water
She stands to leave and carries her loot under her thin arm
I see two small men approach us
They too have visited the kingdom and speak of its wonder
We ride in their three-wheeled carriage with wooden sides and metal wheels
Toward my crumbling home
And pick petals to drink their nectar
From the mayor's red garden.