they were young/ the dark-haired dark-eyed girl/ her tiny skirt climbing her laddered tights revealing a patchwork of pale olive and across from her was a boy or maybe he was a young man / maybe he had already left boyhood behind/ he was explaining everything to her/ how to hold her chopsticks / the surprises of dim sum/ how you don’t know what’s inside but it all will be delicious/ she/ and she was all beauty with a spill of hair that danced each time she raised her chin, and did i say that they were young and he was talking talking talking with one leg vibrating from his hip down to his untied sneaker beating against a tiled floor/ there was hot tea that smelled of flowers and he asked do you like spicy? a waiter with hair that ended in a yellow halo shuffled in and out from a hot kitchen where a paunchy cook hovered from a cloud of steam to send forth his offering/ a special platter of pork belly and bright hot peppers glistening like a prayer and she pressed chopsticks to a strand of meat, swallowed and said it’s really good/ and will they bring us rice? he said yes, yes they always bring rice but did i tell you, did i say/ that she was beauty incarnate and who wants, who needs a god when you’re so very young and your bowl is filled with rice.

Aileen Bassis is a widely exhibited visual artist and poet in New York City working in book arts, printmaking, photography and installation. Her poems appear in four anthologies and journal publications including B o d y Literature, Spillway, Grey Sparrow Journal, Canary, The Pinch, Prelude, and The Southampton Review.