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Found this period piece in the garage:

Panorama view of Duanzhou District and Seven Star Crags

(View of Zhaoqing- 7 Stars by Antoine Mouquet,

23/7/2005)

It’s just as well there are no Pearly Gates

in Spring Festival iconography,

such is the push to be the first one through.

Being British, we naturally wait,

believing that the last shall be first.

Chinese courtesy proves just as ‘Christian’

and stewards show tourists to the best seats-

or is it that we have a group booking?

Further enigmas for us to ponder.

From the Jetcat we hear the deep drum beats

of a Lion Dance; then we are whisked away

from Zhaoqing to Hong Kong, through a grey mist,

as dreich as any Calvinist devil

trafficking in foreign mud* could invoke,

to cover up his nefarious deeds.

Sampan fishermen float among lotus,

seeking a catch of mercury-tainted fry,

while passengers gorge pre-ordered noodles,

violent videos, or gawp at old films

of Yosemite’s winter wonderland,

with El Capitan’s giant monolith

more enduring than Communism.

I feel guilt, having experienced both:

the luxury of Winona Lodge and

mainland China’s dire sanitation.

My eyes stray to a peeling pagoda

while chipmunks skitter through the pristine snow

on screen.  The only wildlife that I saw

in town was a dangling, threaded turtle

and two spiny creatures gnawing through mesh,

in adjacent cages outside a shop,

while all the little yellow trapped birds sang,

to celebrate the British Handover.

By the time we had reached the neon bay,

the children had grown bored by loud Kung Fu

and animal tracks in Adams country.

They were focusing on their next Dim Sum

and whether the Kitchen God, Tsao Wang,

would report favourably about them,

on his annual journey to Heaven

(which might have seemed like the United States

to those who had no hope of travelling there.)

Clutching their scarlet Lai See envelopes,

they sought Mongkok, their Chinese Paradise,

to eat mushrooms of opportunity

with relatives who must have pushed harder.

We waited politely and then disembarked.

The Star Ferry turned around and sailed back.

* opium

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