Wang Ping


First are the faces, where one learns the world, its joy and misery.
Face of the sky, of the earth, of water, faces of things, all the animal
human included---sad, happy, hungry, stuffed, calm or angry,
faces in ecstasy, broken faces, in life or death-- 
faces we see every day, on streets, buses, 
subways, screens, in homes and dreams, but pay no attention.

Face of a baby bird hidden under its wing, bathed 
in the hot light of August morning, feathered body 
of tender yellow-green leaning against the black marble wall
of the government building--sleeping--
soundless against the thump of passerby feet--
awaiting flight upward to its nest in the sun.
Faces of  abandoned cats and dogs in the woods,
of crushed deer and raccoons along highways. 
Face of the mother at 59 pleading with her daughter
to find her a husband in America, her desire
unplugged by the magnetic force of the North Pole
when her plane stops at Anchorage for fuel.
Faces waiting to be called into cubbyholes 
of the New York Labor Department, blurred 
by too much sweat. The sudden disappearance
of the Dalai Lama's face from temples and Bakhor market--face
that is imprinted in every nomad's heart that nothing
can erase, not even death--faces 
of monks reciting quotes from Marx and Mao 
to the stone-faced Communists under Buddha's lotus seats--
face of silence--forerunner of the big voice.
Faces of the wanted hung on the windows of token booths--
wanted for ripping jewelry from old ladies' earlobes or
raping and showing genitals to female passengers.
Face of the city, oversexed with bankers, dealers,
addicts who have given up on paradise, thousands of
faceless bodies in Armani suits and ties hopping 
up and down the money buildings.
Face of the belly of my flamenco teacher La Meira --
perfect curves like ocean waves
rippling from nipples to mound of Venus--rocking
her eighth-month baby inside to the contra tempo.
Faces of tourists strolling along Soho streets,
nostrils lifted to the night sky inhaling the air 
perfumed with garlic and jazz--
Ah, I love New York for its shops, cafes, and crisp
autumn breezes--their sighing stirs the face of the homeless man
kneeling between the torn plastic bags and a pile of clothes--
lifting his ecstatic face, he sings: 
"Ah, I love New York because one finds treasure
everywhere, even in the garbage!"