Beijing, China

I turn off a 21st century shopping promenade of designer stores
into an 18th century alley
there are shops of many bright colors

I spot a food vendor
pointed skewers radiating in a circle
movement on the poles

and scorpions
mounted one above the other
squirming seafood shish kebabs

I look again
and look away

Corn, candy balls, cheap toys, cards

I continue walking
but the squirming scorpions
stay in my head

Kaleidoscopes, puzzles, spinning tops

I pause at some good luck ribbons
and the vendor grabs me
clutches my sleeve
pinches my arm

I pull away
she tugs
she won’t let go

China has trapped me

Like the seahorse on a stick
I hold myself upright
my tail curled just so
as I glimpse the passers-by
the scorpions below
I will endure.

©Meredith Pike-Baky

Meredith Pike-Baky (BAWP 1999) recently spent four weeks in southeast China providing curriculum support for a university English language program. On her way home, authorities in Beijing noticed that her visa had expired and held her there for an additional six days for a new visa.

2 Responses to “Seahorse on a Stick by Meredith Pike-Baky”

  1. Marty Williams Says:

    Meredith, I could not get that image out of mind after hearing you read this. Wow.

  2. Bruce Greene Says:

    Wonderful image Meredith. Your poem takes “you are what you eat” to yet another level. Really enjoyed it. More please…

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