Hotel Window, Changshou, China

Beneath my window lanterns were lit,
night huddled around their paper-heads

full of fire. Willows, bowed like wigs
on thin necks to where I couldn’t see,

a dark I could lose your hand in.

If I’d held out your ear you’d have heard
the pond ebb against the pagoda, heard boats

bob like bodies to the clack of Mahjong tiles-

cries of a boy dragged out by men-
his hidden pieces scattered as I watched

like we all do, when cats carry mice into alleys.
This is what you missed while you slept,

night breathing heavy, just outside our door.

Simon Costello