Psalm with Pleather Teddy Bears

—Anshun, Guizhou, China
 
 
At first, I notice not the cart girl but her shoes: Purple. Toes tipped
with pleather teddy bears. She lifts her ladle full of hog skin curls in hen-foot broth.
She points and says my hair is yellow as the sunshine in America.
 
She says Transformers, Madonna, Beyoncé, Titanic. She says American girls are all
in love with love. American girls are all in sex with sex.
She taps her muddy gym-shoe bears. We both laugh a bit hysterically.
 
In Florida, once, this crypto-hobo hipster took me dumpstering, and, sorting rotten fruit
from good, told a parable that down there, all women are the same
shade of America. I laughed again. I laughed politely. I feel terrible enough
 
to reach into the earth, straight to America, and pull him through.
 
Today, my mom Skyped in to say my cousin died: a razor blade, risperidone.
As kids, we’d play Columbus. She’d stand up tall—naked,
wearing bubbles—and yell THIS BATHTUB IS AMERICA.
 
The hog skin vendor hands her baby off to me. She wants a picture for her mama
in Shanghai who, wearing coveralls, paints yellow hair on novelty angels for America.
 
When I sleep, I see vixen eyes that leap like sparklers into ditches. I see pleather bears
searching for honey in the marigolds that find themselves encased in amber waves of dew.
 
Do you think every dream should be a dream that someone has of you, America?