Inspired by the story of the adoption of Xu Qian Qian
The ruts have dried into shining streets
With pots of iron trees
The old muck, capped-off and deep, a grave of
A clod-size child splays upon a drain to the
Her bowels leak through a tunnel, built by a
Thousand peasant brickers.
Her math is gone, as is her mother, her view
Is feet that faster, fast
Snub the spice shop for the bank; she counts them
Caterwauling, “Cash! Cash!”
The racing shoes chuck pennies or dimes by
Her vile they appraise her.
When her dangling feet have dried to scabs, the
Boss will bring his razor.
The farmer’s final asking: “Help her grow,”
As his thumbprint marked the line.
“City growth is riches,” said the man, “now
Her crippled legs are mine.”
©2005 Steven Ray Smith
Steven Ray Smith is the editor of Texas Poetry Journal. His work has appeared in Skidrow Penthouse, Creative Pulse of Austin, The Austin Chronicle, Pudding House, and Parnassus Literary Journal, among others.