The Chinese Woman’s Voice

The Chinese Woman’s Voice
Kevin Arnold

I get a few whiffs of foreign sawdust
while I fondle an imitation Ming vase,
nearly-opaque with blue splotches.
It appears hurriedly hand-painted
with a lid that doesn’t quite seat.
I’m at an import store surrounded
by mugs stacked over my head and
dangling tables and baskets.

The sweet-pungent smell drags me not to
fifteenth-century China but
some quick-fingered assembly-line painter.
I feel I can see her now
working furiously at her task.
I probably have things she covets:
money and time to spend with my kids
in a discount East-West shop.
She talks to me says
It’s okay, it’s okay.

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