by Mark Mansfield
The Grand Hotel
You did my make-up for our Senior Play—
Inherit the Wind, and I was playing Drummond.
Our lives then half a world away: Taipei.
In a crash pad a block off Dupont Circle,
that summer we made love one afternoon.
Recently back Stateside—you to one school;
I to one school after the next. How soon
like a reel of brittle film, Taipei unspooled,
its temples and real dragons turned to wind.
The taxis on Zhongshan race through the night,
as I slowly hike up Yuanshan where the lights
of the Grand still trace its gilded tiles. A wind
flares up, and near a path by the entrance lawn
a gui po* grins, her teeth blood-red, or gone.
*The ghost of an old woman
That Strange Sea
Why does that strange sea make no sound?
No sound, the horizon like a mirror wrought
from wind and waves. With her sails damaged yet full,
a derelict tosses: a speck from an abandoned pier
and its mime of frantic gulls and raging fronds.
A massive surge crashes against her hull―
still not a sound, quiet as an idle thought.
The storm advances on clouds that were far off.
But her sails have rent. The shore is now quite near.