Watching You

Staring from a window

on the south side of Soho

was a young Chinese lady

with noodles in her bowl.

 

The new year was festooned:

hung in red and yellow;

bright, plastic moons under

a black, frozen sky.

 

She was poised, with boney shoulders

and a flower in her hair,

a claw tightly pinched around

the chopsticks dipping down.

From high, powdered cheeks

she was watching all outside,

stirring the noodles

to pass a little time.

 

The night was rising fast

and the streets of Chinatown

were random with the flow

of strangers out, abroad;

gazing in the windows

at the decorated bowls

under jagged neon signs

that spilt across the road.

 

The workers and the police

were carried by a swell

as the tightly-buttoned tide

lapped the diners to the doors;

the glass on every front

had faded to a frame

and the stir-fry in the pans

was smelt by burning eyes.

 

The girl looked out and stared

through the glass that wasn’t there

and alone she sat and ate

another noodle from her bowl.