Visit to Chinatown comes with invitation
to beheading

Roasted ducks, chickens, and pigs—with
life drawn from them—hang headless
on racks across broad windowpanes

Before mounting steps to restaurant
hidden between office buildings like
precious flower in a forest of tall trees,

my mind traces red and gold characters
above the door, wondering what secrets
they hold; the proprietor announcing
what he was able to accomplish—call his own—in
a land far from his birth

Inside, a woman serves Dim Sum. She and I do not
speak the same language and so I blindly point
at the carted food, hoping to select fish or shrimp dumplings,
and bypass what I suspect was taken from the
animals on display at the window

I dismount steps to find vendor hovering over fruits
Papaya he announces, the chilled air carrying the echo
of his thick accent, keeping it alive beyond my ears

Star fruits call my love’s name
On the return home, I hand them to her as if a bouquet of flowers,
from Chinatown

Elvis Alves