Yangon Ripening

by Tang Jiching

If one were to take a sound clip of the city,
It would be the throaty rumblings of an inhaled breath.

A populace, long grown into their inheritance
Nursed, on a diet of opportunism
where there are no fixed professions only
fixed destinies –and within its cardinal boundaries both the
Hedonistic and the pious stand equally justified
Here, uncertainty is the gold standard
bartered in both shop and pagoda

At sundown, girls exchange their longyis
For the inflated currency of western skirts
Mostly, the city holds a bated breath-
The guards in the defunct government houses;
The grocery boss on his rattan pedestal (safe from the dirty water);
The hole-in-the-wall street office, with its sign in English scrawled ‘construction experts’;
Watching the world outside gain seeping dimensions.
Some testing the waters,
Some finding remaining dry spots, meditating
away the anxiety of a world arriving too fast
To become real. Call it contentment,
this easy life of the poor?

Even the mangos here waft pungently, overripe with waiting.
Against lakhs of reincarnations all the living must but appear still –
When the dirt waters clear will we know
Who rolled the dice, who waited for the cards to show.

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