Treasure Island

Paul Hansford


All Chinese to me


I could say “Ni hao”
for “Good morning, ”
and it was only polite to say “Xie xie”
for “Thank you.”

That was my limit
until, in a babble of unfamiliar sounds,
I heard the word, “Ho-murr, ”
and then again, “Ho-murr.”
Ho-murr? I thought.
Do they have The Simpsons in China?
But it was only “back door.”

Later, struggling to board a bus by the middle door,
I heard the conductor say, “Ho-murr”
– and I could hear the exclamation mark –
“Ho-murr! ”,
I knew this time he wasn’t talking about The Simpsons,
and I had a pretty good idea
he wasn’t a fan of classical Greek poetry either.

But I didn’t want to be left on the pavement
when he closed all the doors and drove off.
So I just squeezed in by the middle door,
as if it was all Chinese to me.

Submitted: Monday, April 13, 2009

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