Little Thieves
A golden scorpion skewered
like a scrawny prawn—
that’s something I said no
thanks to. In the all-night street
market—the streets still shiny
from the evening rain—a guy
flipped yellow-breasted buntings
on a charcoal grill. “Buttery,”
an Australian told me, taking
two. “Melts in your mouth.”
Also snakes skinned and milky
white, fried beetles, a vat of lumpy
horse stew. But I don’t remember
sparrows—either on the grill or in
the air. Were they ever re-introduced
there, after Mao accused them
of stealing grain and people
stayed up all night banging pots
and kettles to make them flit from
branch to branch to branch
till every tiny heart gave out?
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