The dew rests in droplets on the grass, but it’s gone before the shops open.
For a few moments, I can feel dampness in the air, but then the wind blows dry and hot.
A woman walks by; she smells of sand and sunshine. But deception comes in a bottle. She’s not just come from the beach. I suspect, like most of my students, she’s never seen one.
But spring has come to Xinzheng. The flowers are in bloom, like miniature fireworks springing from green.
Food street is full. Vendors set their tables with qie zi, spicy lamb kebabs, and egg tarts. And the people line up…in crowded bunches around windows and doors. They wriggle in and out of the lines, shopping and buying and buying and shopping until they feel full. Then, they begin again tomorrow.
Xinzheng presses upon me, at times like a woolen sweater rubbing the back of my neck until it is red and raw. Yet, at other times, I collapse into her welcoming embrace. My heart is warmed with green milk tea and mὀ lἰ lὓ chẚ. And on the air wafts the scents of cooking oil, dirt, and jasmine.