at the Great Wall Sheraton Hotel, Beijing, 1992
Kwok Ying thinks people of a certain kind
will find it easier to remember him. He’s right.
But as if his name were so hard to inflect—
plenty of other things come to mind.
Memory works in flashbacks,
scraps of trailers, web-bytes, top ten charts, ding-a-ling.
Still, he’s called me here for a reason,
not just to watch him plough through a 15-oz steak,
French fries, Brussels sprouts all doused in Béarnaise,
slurping and sucking like he’s got to get it all in before it’s too late.
I sit back, watching it all unfold:
genius at the dinner plate.
Twenty minutes in, chewing for his life,
he rustles it out of his jacket pocket:
typewritten on carbon paper.
Here. For you. Careful. He says.
Inside there’s a number with five zeros.
An ooze of sauce drips onto his sleeve.
We have coffee. He has a crepe suzette, flambéed with cognac.
At the end he reaches for the bill, says: So? We have deal?
previously published in Revolution House