vapors crest, puffing in beaded continents across the wide interior panes
stones of rice grains succumb, mollifying under surges of goading steam

a line of bodies begins between the railings
my sneakers hold their place in the queue

barber pole décor—tabled booths are flecked by gluts of surface crumbs
enameled particle boards bent in gentle L’s pander to the seated form

a number six, no meat, thanks
two spring rolls; duck sauce

the milky hammock of her forearm wobbles gently with each button press
as her tattooed knuckles deposit hominid warmth onto my pocket change

three bills, five coins returned
yes, I’ll wait over there

four thousand years of calligraphic records scratched into tortoise bones
so two girls in school letters can compare complimentary glass-plated palms

a paper bag, folded at one end
on the counter with grease dapples

the wrinkle of a place mat guides a tour through the Han’s astrological zoo
I’m a zodiac rat, groping with plague whiskers for a spill in fat grain sacks

hands shuffleboard my order
I heft its soggy heat like a lantern

a sigh of sober night pulls cool air in turbulent patterns with the yawning exit
I’ll shred my meal like kibbles in paws, dreaming the spine of snaky Great Walls