People will ask about the trip,
but what can be said? Superlatives?
Mentions of food? Quirks of culture?
How you waved your hands under
what you thought was a towel dispenser,
and the man who entered the bathroom
looked at you like you were crazy?
How you pushed the wrong button
on the coffee machine and flooded
the buffet table? How you ordered
randomly, often pointing, not knowing
what you were going to get, not knowing
what it was when it arrived, not knowing
what it was after you had eaten it?
Are these markers of adventurousness
or cluelessness? Metaphors, moral failings,
or simply common travel experiences?
Do you mention how the first sign you saw
was for Wal-Mart, how everyone smokes,
how you went into a store looking
for water and it was a laundromat (maybe),
how you talked about Catcher in the Rye
in a taxi with a student studying English,
how clean the streets are, how people spit,
how the most difficult thing was to figure out
how to cross the street at some intersections,
how you have never felt safer in a city?
People will ask about the trip
and you will hesitate, unsure how
to respond and eventually realizing
there is no way to explain this journey,
or any, each is personal, intimate,
and so you’ll offer platitudes and
small moments that seem like truths.
They will nod appreciatively,
telling you how great it sounds,
and you will say yes it was amazing,
amazing, which is true, but so inadequate
that it will feel like a kind of betrayal.
(The Hong Kong Review, Vol. II, No. 2)